ABU DHABI 7 October 2020: When she smiles along with her 7-week-old baby boy, she feels it like 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 Asfia Samreen, 29, while recounting her sufferings of Covid-19 infection when she was 24-week pregnant.
It was a miraculous escape for the Indian homemaker from a series of troubles started with her expired medical insurance, the 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.
Pregnancy, Covid and financial struggle
She had to pay for regular check-ups at a private hospital, adding the financial burden on her husband who was not getting regular salary because of the crisis at workplace. He was struggling to take care of the five-member family, including three children aged 7, 6 and 3, said Wam.
During a regular check-up, the doctor asked Samreen to test for Covid-19 for having some symptoms and she was shocked to get a positive result on 6th May.
Subsequently her husband also tested positive for Covid-19, said the woman from south Indian city of Hyderabad.
On 7th May, Samreen was suffering from multiple ailments and got admitted at 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.
Critical with multiple ailments
“I had severe cough, diarrhea 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 tries to recollect.
“Only one thing I clearly remember is the love and care of Dr. Saleema Wani and a team of nurses. They comforted and supported me and instilled confidence and hope in me.”
Later they told her that she was continuously asking to meet her husband but it 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, says “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 tight follow-up.”
Samreen says she still feels the painful sufferings of Covid. “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 (13th to 17th May) 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 13th and 14th. “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 18th May, it was a touching experience to see a team of doctors and nurses around her with prayers and smiles.
Multi-faith prayers by hospital staff
“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 23rd May and in ICU until 3rd June.
Dr Wani had visited her at SSMC, and even after being discharged, she was calling her up to check her condition.
Meanwhile her husband lost his job. But Dr. Wani and Corniche hospital extended all support to continue her treatment and the baby, Mohammed Abdul Haseeb, was born on 13th August, 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.”