Page last updated at 20:19 GMT, Tuesday, 30 June 2009 21:19 UK

Swine flu girl 'had tough life'

Imran Ahmad
Imran Ahmad said his daughter had "been through a lot"

A six-year-old girl who died after contracting swine flu had "been through a lot" with other illnesses, her father has told an inquest.

Sameerah Ahmad died at Birmingham Children's Hospital on Friday evening after contracting the virus.

Her father Imran Ahmad, from Edgbaston, attended the opening of the inquest at Birmingham Coroner's Court.

The hospital's Dr Gale Pearson told the court that Sameerah had a condition which had weakened her immune system.

Her death is the third swine-flu related fatality in the UK. The other two were in Scotland.

There must be a lot of parents who are worried and are very aware of your grief
Birmingham coroner Aiden Cotter

The Health Protection Agency confirmed on Tuesday there are now 6,538 cases in the UK.

Aiden Cotter, Birmingham and Solihull's coroner, confirmed Sameerah had been infected with the H1N1 virus when she died and gave details of other serious health problems.

She was born with a rare genetic disorder affecting the small intestine called microvillus inclusion disease, which causes severe and often life-threatening diarrhoea, the inquest heard.

A post-mortem examination was due to be carried out on Tuesday and the inquest was adjourned.

Sameerah's body was released to her family on Tuesday afternoon and her coffin was taken to the family home where relatives and teachers from her school paid their respects.

A rare genetic disorder of the small intestine
Causes chronic, severe diarrhoea in newborn babies, which can lead to serious dehydration and a condition called metabolic acidosis
Nearly always fatal, but can sometimes be treated by intravenous feeding or an intestinal transplant

The six-year-old attended Mayfield School, a school for children with special needs in Lozells, Birmingham, which has been closed until Monday.

Mr Ahmad told the court his daughter had suffered during her lifetime.

Asked if he wanted a post-mortem examination to be carried out, he replied: "Obviously I do not, because she has been through a lot already in her life."

However, he said he accepted it, if it was "the law".

Mr Cotter told him a post-mortem examination was necessary to find out how his daughter had died, but was not strict law.

"It may be that, when we have all the evidence in, we still won't know but it's important we try and find out," the coroner said.

'Great loss'

Mr Cotter said he was releasing more information about Sameerah's death than was usual at the opening of an inquest.

"I think it's very important that the public have this information.

"There must be a lot of parents who are worried and are very aware of your grief."

Mayfield School head teacher Paul Jenkins said pupils and staff were being offered support over the death of Sameerah.

"She was a wonderful, happy, child and her death is a great loss to the school community. She will be sadly missed by everyone here."

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