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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

Emirati describes year-long recovery battle after contracting crippling immune disease

Mohammed Al Hossani barely made it to hospital after developing flu-like symptoms

Mohammed Al Hosani takes part in a physiotherapy session with Ahmad Samour, a physiotherapist at the ProVita International Medical Center in Abu Dhabi. Pawan Singh / The National
Mohammed Al Hosani takes part in a physiotherapy session with Ahmad Samour, a physiotherapist at the ProVita International Medical Center in Abu Dhabi. Pawan Singh / The National

An Emirati man has described how he spent the past year recovering from a rare autoimmune condition that left him on the verge of death.

Mohammed Al Hossani, 39, a father of three, was struck down with Guillain-Barré syndrome, which affects between 1 and 2 people per 100,000.

The oil company worker had returned to Abu Dhabi from a trip to the Gulf and thought he had flu.

He became very weak in the space of a day but managed to drive himself to hospital in time for treatment.

"If I had stayed home a little longer, I would have died or in the best-case scenario, gotten brain damage”, he said yesterday.

"The doctors are surprised that I drove to the hospital that day."

Al Hossani has spent more than a year under going medical care after acquiring the disease in May 2016.

His lungs stopped functioning soon after he arrived at the New Medical Centre.

Within a few hours he was completely paralysed.

The condition leads to rapid acute inflammation and demyelination of the nerves. It attacks the individual's entire nervous system causing severe damage.

“He just had flu symptoms and we all thought that was it,” said his father Abdulrahim Al Hossani, 65.

“We have never heard of GBS or knew it existed."

No medical professional at the hospital had come across a case in the UAE, he said.

“The doctor explained everything to us but he was our only source of information. Our son was lying paralysed in the ICU and attached to a ventilator.”

GBS has no definitive cause and it could affect anyone, regardless of age or gender.

Al Hossani survived but has faced a long-painful recovery.

He remains in long-term rehabilitation at Provita Intermational Medical Centre, where he undergoes intensive rehabilitation and therapy to regain muscle control.

“Mohammed is a lot better. He can now move his head, his arms and can speak after being unable to move any part of his body,” his father said, adding that he is frustrated at the lack of awareness of the condition, as rare as it is.

“There is no database in the UAE on GBS. No one has heard about it and when I say GBS everyone thinks it the Google application, as in GPS.

"We didn’t find a support group or any person who would direct or advise us. Provita have provided us with all the support we need, but we would like to know if there are any new developments out there to treat GBS. We need a database and a focal point to refer to and ask about updates regarding GBS and other rare disorders.”

“My son needs intensive treatment and going abroad for treatment would be more expensive, but we don’t want to travel for the sake of traveling. It’s been more than a year and we are grateful for his improvement but if there was an option to speed up his recovery then we would like to be informed of it."

His son added that medics and the public need to be more aware of the disease.

“What if a person was abroad and got this disease," he said.

"I am sure there are others who have contracted it and did not make it to the hospital in time."