x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Attacked schoolgirl Lujain loses vision

An 11-year-old girl who was beaten at school by a group of boys now suffers from vision loss, and cannot afford the operation to correct it.

ABU DHABI // The victim of a brutal school assault now suffers from loss of vision in both eyes, and does not have the money or health insurance for the operations to correct them.

Lujain Hussein, an 11-year-old Iranian girl, was attacked on her school playground in April and was admitted to Sheikh Khalifa Medical City with a brain haemorrhage.

She stayed under a medically induced coma for two weeks before she was finally discharged from the hospital last month.

But she will not have health insurance to cover the restoration of her full vision until her father's new business can provide it.

"Our father is in the process of changing businesses, so we have no insurance until he renews his trade licence," said Mahran Hussein, Lujain's brother.

"And we cannot afford it on our own. We're trying to figure out a way to finance her treatment before her vision gets any worse."

Mr Hussein said his younger sister's peripheral vision had been most affected, restricting her field of view in each eye.

"Doctors informed us that this was a result of both the haemorrhage and the treatment, since the areas affected were close to those controlling her vision," he said.

The family took Lujain to an ophthalmologic centre, where test results showed that she is experiencing vision loss on the left side of each of her eyes.

The young girl is due for follow-up at SKMC on Wednesday.

Her family is also concerned about her academic progress.

"She's still frail and spends most of her time sleeping," said Maha Abdul Khair, the child's mother. "She's missed almost two months of school, and I'm not sure how we're going to make up for all that lost time. We're trying to arrange something with the school."

Initially, Mrs Abdul Khair said, Lujain was given a 30-day leave beginning May 10. As she continues to recover, the family is appealing to the school to extend this until the end of the academic year.

School officials said they are considering giving Lujain specialised final exams so that she does not lose out on the entire academic year.

Mr Hussein said the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) was supposed to arrange for Lujain to attend another school next academic year, but have heard nothing back from the council.

Lujain was beaten by a group of boys at Al Maali International Private School on April 19. She spent weeks in a medically induced coma. Only after she was hospitalised did her family learn she had been bullied, her brother said.

Scans of Lujain's brain revealed that before the assault, she had an underlying congenital condition. She also had a pre-existing aneurysm, an enlarged artery caused by a weakened blood vessel. Doctors believe the fight could have triggered the haemorrhage.

Meanwhile, the four young boys who attacked the girl are back in school, Mahran said, adding that his younger sister can remember only fragments of the incident.

"She tells us that she fell on a boy, and when she got up to apologise, they all attacked her," the girl's mother said. "After that she doesn't remember anything because of the effect the attack had on her head. She's scared to leave the house, and always holds on to us tightly when we go out."

Khadeeja Al Sayar, the school principal, said the issue has been resolved with Adec, but she would not elaborate.

Adec officials said they are waiting for reports from Abu Dhabi Police about the incident.


* With additional reporting by Afshan Ahmed