LONDON — Irma Hadzimuratovic, the Bosnian girl whose plight came to symbolize the tragedy of Sarajevo, died in a London hospital Saturday after almost two years of intensive treatment.
Great Ormond Street children's hospital said Irma, 7, who was flown to Britain in August, 1993, for emergency surgery after a mortar attack that also killed her mother, died peacefully in her sleep.
"Recently Irma developed further complications related to the original injuries to her abdomen and subsequent scarring which prevented her from taking food. This could not be relieved by further surgery. She required intravenous feeding and developed a blood infection," Dr. Quen Mok, who was responsible for her care, said in a statement.
Irma developed meningitis as a result of shrapnel wounds but later regained consciousness. But she remained paralyzed from the neck down and needed a ventilator to breathe.
"We got the news of Irma's death this morning from her father in London, and I cried because she suffered so much," family member Sajma Alispahic said in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina's capital. "The press attention around Irma's case was a good thing because it helped other children get evacuated."
After Irma was wounded, she spent nine days in a Sarajevo hospital without running water or electricity and with no hope of being airlifted out.
The United Nations had no procedure for urgent evacuations and no foreign hospital beds in which to place patients. The international furor over Irma forced the world body to institute new evacuation procedures and prompted governments to provide beds for treatment.