LONDON: 11-month-old baby Ainul Mardhiah who has been here for the past two months and two days is now back in Malaysia.
For a sweet little girl who isn't even a year old yet, her health predicament had brought together families, friends and strangers alike in sympathy and support since she burst onto the front pages of the media with pictures of a cancerous growth in her mouth.
Her journey home started yesterday.
Her parents, 24 year old Ahmad Safiuddin Ahmad Razak and 23 year old Nurul Erwani Zaidi, brought her to London on May 25 this year, and had her 200 gram tumour successfully removed on June 10, at the Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).
Her developments were followed closely by thousands of followers on her parents' social media accounts.
The journey home for the three of them started yesterday on board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH0003, accompanied by volunteer doctors who flew in from Malaysia, Consultant Anaesthesiologist & Critical Care Specialist, Col (R) Datuk Dr Jaseemudeen Abu Baker from Avisena Specialist Hospital and Dr Gunalan Arumugam, Consultant Anaesthesiologist and a Critical Care Physician from Subang Jaya Medical Centre, both from the Society of Aeromedicine Malaysia (SAMM).
Sending off the family were volunteers from London; anesthetists Dr Fahja Ismail, Dr Najmiah Ahmad and Dr Sharifah Faridah Syed Alwi a lecturer at a London university, Dr Nur Amalina Che Bakri, General Surgery Registrar at St Mary’s Hospital and friends who had been helping the young couple during their stay here in more ways than one.
They left the hospital early yesterday morning for the 11am flight from Heathrow Airport to Malaysia, after saying goodbye to staff at the hospital for children.
Nurses at the hospital gave an emotional farewell to baby Ainul Mardhiah as she was wheeled out of the Butterfly Ward, where she had been a patient since arriving from Malaysia.
The early morning silence at the wards was broken by a burst of applause from the staff at the reception area.
"We are going to miss you, baby Ainul," said one.
"Awww, she was a wonderful patient," offered another as they said their goodbyes.
Baby Ainul Mardhiah came to GOSH with a tumour bigger than a golf ball growing from inside her mouth. She was suffering from a rare form of cancer known as Germ Cell Tumour.
Her plight was highlighted by her parents in social media and had garnered financial support to the tune of over RM4 million, enabling her to come to London for the operation after readers and followers of Dr Nur Amalina Che Bakri, a Malaysian working in the United Kingdom, appealed to her to help bring the baby to London for treatment.
The operation which took more than five hours was performed by a team of 12 doctors led by Professor David Dunaway, Consultant plastic and reconstructive surgeon, and head of the Craniofacial unit of the hospital with among others, Malaysian Juling Ong, a Craniofacial and paediatric plastic surgeon.
Ahmad Safiuddin and Erwani said they were looking forward to going home especially when they had been away from their own parents for so long.
However, both admitted that the experience for the young parents, had been nothing but a learning curve and one that made them mature.
Having spent most of their time in various hospitals since Ainul Mardhiah's pre-mature birth, they look forward to be like any other parents, who could hug and kiss their baby and take her out for walks.
“I am thankful to Allah for giving us this chance again to be parents to Ainul,” said Safiuddin who records daily journals and video clips his daughter's developments, keeping their followers happy.
Ainul Mardhiah's journey to recovery had not been all smooth as she had infections which quite worried not just the parents but also the medical team.
After the successful operation, Ainul Mardhiah was supposed to fly back on July 8 but the journey was canceled at the last minute because she had a slight infection and was not fit to travel.
After the operation, Ainul Mardhiah, whose weight was 2.6kg when she was brought here made an amazing recovery; her weight steadily climbing to 3.1kg.
She delighted her parents and nurses with her smiles, shaking of her head and trying to grab her father’s glasses.
She responds to calls of her name and is already showing some mischief by demanding to be carried all the time.
Apart from a surprise visit by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who described the surgery as a miracle, Ainul Mardhiah had some other very important visitors such as Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad and Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.
The parents, who had been well prepared and trained for aftercare of their baby, had no shortage of invitations from well-wishers in London who certainly contributed in lessening their burden and longing for home-cooked food.
Ainul Mardhiah's predicament had certainly been made easier to bear with the public’s generosity as well as that of Malaysia Airlines and cooperation from the Malaysian High Commission in London.