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

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Raheen Iqbal from Leith, was just four when she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in August 2014 after experiencing pain in her legs as she walked to daycare.

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 under treatment at Sick Kids Hospital in Edinburgh.

The tragic loss of Raheen is described by her loving father Zahir Iqbal 46 as a “sweet, bubbly girl” and is deeply felt by her entire family, including mother Aisha Zahir, 37, and younger brothers, Yahya, seven and Hasaan, four.

Remembering the good times, Mr Iqbal said his daughter enjoyed 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 the harsh treatment,” Mr Iqbal said.

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

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

In an effort 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 in the hospital’s cancer ward.

“Toys are very special for the children who stay in the ward. The hospital becomes your home, but it is not your home. It’s very limiting. The staff are fantastic but it’s still like a prison cell.

“The rooms are small and patients have the same routine every day. Because the children are prone to infections, they are sometimes confined to their cubicles.

“There’s a window and they can see other kids playing, but can’t go outside. The toys are the next best thing.”

Zahir Iqbal climbed Ben Nevis with a 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 in his fight against cancer.

He said: “I have nothing but respect for the children in the cancer ward. They undergo such harsh treatment, but as long as they have games and toys to occupy themselves with, they just keep going.

“My daughter was very strong and resilient, she lost her hair and her mobility due to harsh treatment, but she just kept going.”

Fundraisers conquer Ben Nevis for Sick Kids Hospital

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

To raise money to buy more toys for sick children, Mr Iqbal undertook a sponsored walk to Britain’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, with the aim of raising £2k.

News of his plans soon spread and the Edinburgh City Council employee received requests from more than 70 people to join the challenge.

The huge team of walkers, from all over Scotland, took on the challenge on Sunday 10 October, raising over £17k for charity.

Still in shock at 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 enable us to continue to support children, young people and families in hospital and healthcare during the pandemic and after that.”

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

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