Thanks Given to Public and University for Helping Gravely Ill PhD Student get Back Home


University PhD student Arij Altai, her family and her friends have expressed their gratitude for the financial support that has enabled her to return home to Iraq.

Arij is suffering from terminal cancer that has spread from her breasts to her bones, lungs and lymphatic system. Thanks to the generous donations of the public, she has been able to return home to spend time with her eight year-old son. The fundraising campaign aimed to raise £56,538 for a medical flight to transport her to Iraq as she was too ill to travel via a conventional aircraft, but this was exceeded by over £5,000.

Additionally, the University of Southampton separately donated £22,000 specifically to help cover the medical flight. This, in combination with the GoFundMe money and private cash donations, saw the amount raised reach £83,139.53.

The University’s Student Communications Facebook page stated:

…the philanthropic donations come from two University funds, made possible by our donor community, which help students in exceptional hardship situations such as this. We’ve moved quickly to ensure that the funds were released.

The extra funding will reportedly be used by the family to help with their uncertain future. There will still be medical needs, the costs of returning the family’s possessions back to Iraq and supporting her son Ali through this difficult time.

Credit: Deborah Fulcher Cornah.

The GoFundMe page was set up by Deborah Fulcher Cornah, who has admitted she has been ‘overwhelmed’ by the scale of the funding and is struggling to articulate’ how grateful all those who know Arij are. However, everyone who has followed the story and donated should be happy in the knowledge that thanks to their collaborative efforts the family has at last been reunited.


Third year History student with a passion for journalism. I have a particular interest in minority rights, historical comparisons and current affairs. Unapologetic feminist.

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