x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Emirati man’s plea to help pay for sick British father-in-law’s medical costs

UAE national Ghalib Al Maskeri needs financial support to help his dying father-in law. He is hoping Ramadan - a time of giving charity to the needy – will encourage offers of help.

Emirati Ghalib Al Maskeri, left, with his family, wife Liz, right, and children, from left, Mohammed, Aliya and Yasmine, is hoping the kindness and generosity inspired by the holy month will help him to pay to send his ailing father-in-law back to the UK. Ravindranath K / The National
Emirati Ghalib Al Maskeri, left, with his family, wife Liz, right, and children, from left, Mohammed, Aliya and Yasmine, is hoping the kindness and generosity inspired by the holy month will help him to pay to send his ailing father-in-law back to the UK. Ravindranath K / The National

ABU DHABI // Ghalib Al Maskeri feels as if he is buckling under the cost of looking after his desperately ill father-in-law.

The Emirati’s British father-in-law, Gordon Griffiths, 84, was on holiday in the UAE this year when he was rushed to hospital with acute emphysema and related problems.

Now Mr Griffiths wants to go home as his condition worsens, after four months in Abu Dhabi’s New Medical Centre hospital. He had no insurance.

Mr Al Maskeri wants to grant his wish but it will cost Dh300,000 to send him home by air ambulance – on top of the Dh600,000 medical bill that is growing every day.

“It is eating us away,” he said. “The hospital keeps calling and I don’t know what to do.

“I have to go to work and take care of my family. It is very difficult.”

Mr Al Maskeri, 53, is desperately hoping the spirit of Ramadan, a time of charity, will spur others to help him and his family. He earns a modest income as a mechanical engineer for Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations.

He is sole provider for his wife Elizabeth and their 10-year-old triplets, and supports his three older children who are 25, 21 and 18.

The financial and emotional stress has become overwhelming, Mr Al Maskeri admits.

Describing himself as a “walking zombie”, he said he had “knocked on every door” looking for financial help to support his father-in-law, Mr Griffiths.

“We ask for help but nobody wants to listen,” he said. “All the family are going through a difficult time.”

Mr Al Maskeri said Mr Griffiths had visited the UAE annually for 18 years to visit his daughter.

“We are so used to his trip and throughout all this time we did not pay any attention regarding the medical insurance,” he said.

“It always became a routine for us to pay a small amount if he became sick. But this time we got caught by surprise.”

Doctors told the family Mr Griffiths had acute emphysema, a progressive lung disease caused by years of smoking.

“When he was admitted to the hospital, he was so sick he had to go into intensive care,” Mr Al Maskeri said. “For the first week I paid Dh45,000, then they requested more money. But we could not afford any more.”

Mr Griffiths developed further problems including pneumonia, septic shock, respiratory difficulties, hypertension, diastolic heart failure and anaemia.

“Now he has been in hospital for the past four months,” Mr Al Maskeri said. “The other day he told me, ‘I want to go home. I do not want to die here’.”

“I just want to help but I cannot really because the medical bills are so much.”

The Dh45,000 only scratched the surface, he said.

“Now the amount required for the medical bills is almost Dh600,000. We also need to send him to the UK by air ambulance, which will cost almost Dh300,000.”

Despite the lack of support he has received so far, Mr Al Maskeri remained hopeful of the generosity of others during the holy month.

“Ramadan – this is the time, really. I am sure there are so many kind and compassionate people. I am sure they would love to help,” he said.

Mr Al Maskeri is appealing for donations to help cover the cost of the medical care for Mr Griffiths.

“The medical bills have mounted beyond my capacity, as I am a UAE national working with a modest monthly income,” he said.

“Having six children – it is too much to bear this situation alone. Therefore I am appealing to those who care to stand by me and lend a hand of love and help me to overcome this situation.”

He said that if anyone was able to help, they could email him on galmaskeri@adco.ae.

jbell@thenational.ae