Evelina London Zip

The story behind the Zip

The story behind the Zip

At the start of the school summer holiday in 2013, Zaki, normally an energetic seven-year-old, began to feel sick and tired, complaining of headaches and problems with his eyesight. His dad Andy, Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the London Fire Brigade (LFB), took Zaki to A&E, where doctors initially thought he’d had a brain tumour.

An MRI scan revealed no tumour but showed that he had contracted viral encephalitis, which is a rare but very serious infection that causes inflammation of the brain, similar to meningitis.

Zaki became dangerously ill, ending up in intensive care, with doctors at one point warning Andy and his wife, Salma, that Zaki might not survive. Doctors also discovered that Zaki had a previously undiscovered condition that caused pressure to build up on his brain, placing him at risk of blindness and other serious long-term health issues.

Expert treatment for a rare condition

Zaki was then transferred to the specialist brain and spine inflammation service at Evelina London Children’s Hospital, run by Dr Ming Lim (pictured below left), a national expert in this area. Zaki’s presentation of the condition is extremely rare in a child of his age and demographic, and Dr Lim had never treated someone with his particular profile. Dr Ming Lim from Evelina London Children's Hospital

Thanks to the excellent care at Evelina London, Zaki’s condition has gradually improved over the past three years. Until recently Zaki has been on high levels of powerful medication to control his condition, which made it hard for him to put on weight and risked damaging his kidneys and liver.

Zaki is now drug-free with the Evelina London team managing his condition through careful observation and testing. Now aged nine, Zaki is still seen regularly as an out-patient at Evelina London, and is continuing to do really well. He is expected to be seen by doctors at the hospital throughout his childhood.

Zaki is a funny, lively boy and as well as attending school, he enjoys karate, playing on his computer and seeing all his cousins.

Why a zip wire across the Thames?

Andy came up with the idea for the Evelina London Zip when sitting in Zaki’s hospital room, which overlooked the River Thames. He was so overwhelmed by the incredible care and support that Zaki had received that he desperately wanted to do something to show his appreciation, while also celebrating the 150th anniversary of the LFB in demonstrating the amazing operational skills and capabilities the Brigade can offer.

He decided his knowledge of technical rescue could be put to good use and came up with the idea of running a zip wire across the Thames to showcase the LFB’s advanced rope rescue capability, that can access a casualty in almost any location, regardless of how high or difficult to reach.

After discussing his idea with Zaki’s consultant, Andy went about securing agreement from the Brigade and quickly his quirky idea started to become a reality.

Read more about the Evelina London Zip event