Dad gifts £17k to Edinburgh’s Sick Kids Hospital after losing daughter to cancer aged 10

A grieving father who lost his daughter to cancer is helping others fighting the same illness by raising and donating £17k to a children’s cancer ward.

Thursday, 21st October 2021, 12:30 pm

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Raheen Iqbal from Leith, was only four when she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in August 2014 after suffering from pain in her legs while walking to nursery.

After a six-year battle with cancer, including three relapses and extensive chemotherapy, Raheen passed away in August 2020, aged 10.

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Raheen Iqbal in Edinburgh's Sick Kids Hospital undergoing treatment.

Described as a “lovely, bubbly little girl” by doting father Zahir Iqbal, 46 the tragic loss of Raheen is felt deeply by her whole family, including mother Aisha Zahir, 37 and younger brothers, Yahya seven and Hasaan, four.

Remembering the good times, Mr Iqbal said his daughter took great joy from playing with dolls while undergoing “harsh” chemotherapy treatments at Edinburgh’s Sick Kids Hospital.

“The hospital had a box of toys for the children, I remember the dolls would brighten up her face and help her forget about the harsh treatment,” said Mr Iqbal.

“Raheen was like any other little girl, she loved playing with dolls and dressing up, she was always pretending to be a princess.”

Raheen Iqbal with father Zahir Iqbal, 46, mother Aisha Zahir, 37 and younger brothers, Yahya seven and Hasaan, four.

In a bid to help other families cope with childhood cancer the father-of-three has raised £17k to help the hospital buy more toys for children living on the hospital’s cancer ward.

“Toys are very special to the children staying on the ward. The hospital becomes your home but it is not your home. It's very restrictive. The staff are fantastic but it is still like a prison cell.

“The rooms are small and patients have the same routine every day. As the kids are prone to infection they are sometimes limited to their cubicles.

“There is a window and they can watch other children play but can’t go out, the toys are the next best thing.”

Zahir Iqbal climbed Ben Nevis with large group of friends and supporters.

Mr Iqbal went on to say that he has “so much” admiration for all the young people he has met battling cancer.

He said: “I have nothing but respect for the children on the cancer ward. They are going through such harsh treatment but as long as they have games and toys to occupy them they just carry on as normal.

“My daughter was very strong and resilient, she lost her hair and her mobility through harsh treatment but she just carried on as normal.”

Fundraisers conquer Ben Nevis for Sick Kids Hospital

Raheen Iqbal with younger brothers, Yahya seven and Hasaan, four.

To raise cash to buy more toys for sick children Mr Iqbal took on a sponsored hike up Britain's highest peak, Ben Nevis, aiming to raise £2k.

Word of his plans soon spread and the Edinburgh City Council employee had requests from over seventy people to take part in the challenge.

The huge team of walkers, from across Scotland, took on the challenge on Sunday, October 10 and have raised more than £17k for charity.

Still in shock about the support received Mr Iqbal said: “It was overwhelming to see the support, even more overwhelming when we say how much money had been raised.”

Victoria Buchanan, deputy director of fundraising at Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity, said: “It is the compassion and enthusiasm of supporters like Zahir that enables us to continue to support children, young people and families in hospital and healthcare throughout the pandemic and beyond.”

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Raheen Iqbal was only four when she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia

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