Asfia Samreen thanks UAE medics for saving her life and helping her give birth to her fourth child.
When she smiles along with her 7-week-old baby boy, Asfia Samreen feels like she is in a dream.
“I would not have been here to enjoy his smile. At one point doctors had thought of inducing an early delivery of the baby as they were not sure of saving my life,” says Samreen, 29, while recounting her sufferings of Covid-19 when she was 24 weeks pregnant.
The Indian homemaker has enjoyed a miraculous escape from a series of troubles which started with her expired medical insurance, much-needed protection during the pregnancy. Her husband, an electrical engineer, could not get his family’s medical insurance renewed as his employer was going through a crisis.
Samreen had to pay for regular check-ups at a private hospital, adding to the financial burden on her husband who was not getting a regular salary because of the crisis at work. He was struggling to take care of the five-member family, including three children aged 7, 6 and 3.
During a regular check-up, the doctor asked Samreen to test for Covid-19 as she had some symptoms of the virus and she was shocked to get a positive result on May 6.
Her husband also subsequently tested positive for Covid-19, said the woman from the south Indian city of Hyderabad.
On May 7, Samreen was suffering from multiple ailments and got admitted to the Corniche Hospital in Abu Dhabi. Although she did not have a medical insurance, the hospital under the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha) offered her all necessary treatments.
“I had a severe cough, diarrhoea and breathing problems and could not speak at all. They immediately put an oxygen mask on me. I was conscious but I had no idea about what was going on,” Samreen recalls.
“Only one thing I clearly remember is the love and care of Dr Saleema Wani and a team of nurses. They comforted, supported me and instilled confidence and hope in me.”
Later they told her that she had been continuously asking to meet her husband, which was impossible as he was also a Covid patient. He was asymptomatic and hence quarantined at home.
Dr Wani, Consultant, Obstetrics and Gynecology at Corniche hospital, said: “Upon admission, Samreen was in such a critical condition that we had to discuss with her and her husband whether to induce an early delivery or let the pregnancy take its normal course.
“We agreed with the family to take the challenge and let the pregnancy progress normally, ensuring a rigorous follow-up.”
Samreen says she still feels the painful sufferings of Covid-19. “Apparently it severely affected my lungs. I had a high fever as well.”
After seven days, as her condition worsened, she was moved to Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC) the UAE’s largest hospital for serious and complex care, under Seha.
She was unconscious for the next five days between May 13 and 17 as her respiratory system and kidneys were dysfunctional.
Later she was told that the doctors were preparing to conduct a C-section and deliver the baby as her condition further worsened on May 13 and 14. “They told me that I was about to die so they wanted to save the baby, although I didn’t know anything.”
When she regained consciousness on May 18, it was a touching experience to see a team of doctors and nurses around her with prayers and smiles.
“They said the entire staff at SMCC and Corniche Hospital were constantly praying for me, along with my family. It was heartening to see people from different religions – Christians, Muslims, Hindus and others – were praying together for me. I felt blessed to come back to life.”
She was not in a position to move her limbs and remained on ventilator until May 23 and in an ICU until June 3.
Dr Wani had visited her at SSMC, and even after being discharged, she regularly called her to check her condition.
Meanwhile, her husband lost his job. However, Dr Wani and Corniche hospital maintained their support for her and continued her treatment and that of her baby, Mohammed Abdul Haseeb, who was born on August 13 at the hospital by a C-section just like her previous deliveries.
Dr Wani says Samreen’s case was challenging, but the treatment was successful thanks to the teamwork of the hospital staff. “Moreover, she was a fighter. She never left her hope. It is not always the medicine alone but patient’s determination to fight the medical condition also plays a major role in successful treatment.”
Samreen, who has been living in the UAE for eight years, is a happy woman now. “My husband got a new job recently. I would like to live my entire life in the UAE that gave me a second life.”