A taxi driver has lost a quarter of his skull after being nearly beaten to death in a brutally violent attack which his wife fears was racially motivated.
Faisal Raja, 37, was given just a one in ten chance of surviving the catastrophic brain injuries he suffered in the attack by thugs late last year.
He has now regained motor function but his wife says his personality has ‘definitely changed’ as a result of the damage to his brain.
The cabbie, from Derby, suffered two severe skull fractures, severe swelling and bleeding on the brain and had to have a quarter of his skull removed in four operations after being set upon by a gang of men when he stepped out of his car for a bite to eat.
His heavily-pregnant wife, Rozi, 31, whom he had called just moments before the attack, feared he would die over Christmas as she sat by her husband’s hospital bed.
Now back at home with three-week-old daughter Aliza, Mr Raja will have to spend the next six months wearing a protective helmet as his brain is covered only by a thin layer of skin. He is unable to drive or leave the house unassisted.
Mother-of-one Mrs Raja said: ‘They’re animals, they left him to die.
‘I thought he wouldn’t make it, I thought I was going to be a single parent.
‘It was terrible, I can’t even find the words to describe how bad his injuries were – it was just horrific.
‘It was a miracle that he survived. He was given just a 10 per cent chance of making it.
‘When we went in to see him, he was covered in wires and you could see how much his head had swollen. He was given a 10 per cent of surviving and was put on a life support machine.
‘All the hospital staff were shocked that he survived, they say how pleased they are he’s still here.’
She added: ‘He could have been targeted because of his race.’
Mr Raja had finished a night shift driving his taxi in the Morledge area of Derby on November 25 and was due to return home to his heavily-pregnant wife.
But the expectant father decided to work a few more night-time hours to earn a little extra money for his family. He pulled up by a kebab shop in Morledge, called his wife to check she was okay, then went to get a snack.
As he returned to the car, a group of men viciously attacked him from behind crushing his skull with their knuckle-duster-wrapped fists and attacking him with a knife.
They left him for dead.
Mr Raja was rushed to hospital where he was immediately induced into a coma and put on life support. He spent two-and-a-half months in hospital and was on life support for six weeks.
It was only when came out of his coma and regained consciousness doctors were able to assess the of his injuries in full.
Initially, he was unable to speak, eat or swallow but has now entered intensive physiotherapy which has allowed him to regain some of his movement and most of his speech.
But he still needs round-the-clock medical care, daily hospital appointments and specially adapted features at home like a wet room and stair lift.
Mrs Raja explained that due to the amount of skull which has been removed her husband needs to wear a protective helmet as a quarter of his brain is only covered by a thin layer of skin.
He will have to wear the helmet for six months so that his condition can stabilise before doctors can consider putting a protective plate over his brain.
She said: ‘There are still glimmers of his old self, but his personality has changed definitely.
‘He lost a huge amount of muscle so he’s had a lot of intensive physio. He’s also relearned how to eat and swallow and talk.
‘If anything were to hit or touch that side of his skull, it could be fatal.
‘He has the hat on all the day, can’t have coffee or anything like that anymore.’
Mrs Raja is now calling for greater protection for taxi drivers which she claims ‘isn’t important’ to Derby City Council.
The new mother, who gave birth on January 23, said her husband struggles to deal with his daughter as he’s still experiencing chronic migraines and fatigue.
The couple’s friends and neighbours are trying to raise £30,000 on GoFundMe to pay for the extra care and home adaptions Faisal will need.
She said: ‘Protection for cab drivers doesn’t seem important to the council, and that needs to change. Life has been one big nightmare, I look back over the last few months and I wonder how we got through it.
‘It’s sad. He’s very apprehensive about being able to pick her up. He’s got chronic fatigue so can’t devote himself fully to her. But he absolutely adores her. He feels like he’s been given life, Aliza has kept him alive.
‘We assumed our future was going to be the same as any young couple’s, having kids and owning a house together.
‘Now we’re not sure what the future holds. There’s no normality to our lives and we don’t know when we’ll get it back.’
A police spokeswoman said that eight people had been arrested, seven of whom had been released under investigation and one released on police bail. Their enquiries are ongoing.
A council spokesman said Derby City takes the safety of its taxi drivers ‘very seriously’.