An innocent 12-year-old girl faces a lifetime of battling health issues after doctors accidentally transfused HIV-positive blood into her system.
Last week, Reham al-Hakam went to her local hospital in Jazan, Saudi Arabia, to receive a blood transfusion. A few hours later, hospital workers arrived at al-Hakam’s home to tell her parents they accidentally gave her HIV-positive blood.
This case is currently being investigated by Mohammed Almadi, an official from the government-backed Human Rights Commission, and has sparked widespread, unprecedented criticism of government officials.
Saudi Arabia is known in the media for its ultra-conservative ideals in alignment with traditional Islamic principles. As of late the nation has also been the subject of international disapproval for notable human rights violations, including the beheading of a nanny who admitted to killing a baby only after getting tortured, and an Islamic preacher who brutally killed his 5-year-old daughter and received only a three-month jail sentence and a fine.
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In this HIV case, however, the Saudi public is really finding its voice and is harshly criticizing government health officials over social media.
According to CNN, the Saudi Health Ministry has issued a statement that said they are investigating the “critical error.” In addition, Daoud al-Sharian, a popular Saudi television presenter, has called for the Health Minister Abdullah al-Rabiah to resign from his position. So far, seven officials have been fired.
A local Saudi paper reported that the health minister gave the girl an iPad when he visited her in the hospital recently, which has of course earned him even stronger public criticism over Twitter.
“This should go into the Guinness Book (of World Records) as the cheapest compensation ever,” wrote Saudi preacher Adel Al-Kalabani in Arabic. His tweet has been retweeted nearly 4,000 times, according to CNN.
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The girl is currently getting tested for HIV, so it has not been confirmed if she did contract the virus. It is also unclear as of now how HIV-positive blood made it into a blood bank.