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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Parents of MS sufferer call for specialised centre

The parents of a man who has suffered from multiple sclerosis for 16 years are calling for a specialised centre in Abu Dhabi where their son could undergo physiotherapy to help him be well enough to move independently.

At 17, Zaid was the captain of a football team and had eagerly begun to make plans for his future but at a time when most when most teenagers’ idea of life-changing news is a rejection letter from a favoured university, Zaid was told he had multiple sclerosis – a chronic disease that affects the nerves in the brain and spinal cord.

Now 33 years old, he cannot speak or swallow, is partially blind and shakes so violently that he is unable to care for himself.

Just four years after he was diagnosed, Zaid's attacks started to get worse. He relapsed five times in 2009 alone.

His whole brain is damaged apart from a small area that controls memory.

His family say the day they found out he had MS was the day their lives were destroyed.

The Jordanian is the eldest of five siblings and, prior to his sickness, had helped care for all of them.

"He was our son, our friend and our support," says his mother, who asked not to be named.

Zaid has been unable to take medication for years. Doctors say it is impossible for him to be stable enough to get an MRI which they need before prescribing medication to him.

The National first reported on Zaid in 2015, who at the time said he felt guilty for being a burden on his parents. Since then his condition has severely worsened and he is now unable to speak or move independently.

“Now he can’t stand up for a minute. He still tries but immediately falls down,” says his mother.

His family, who live in Abu Dhabi, are desperate for a specialised centre that would provide him with any form of treatment such as speech therapy or physiotherapy.

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Read more:

Emiratis in Abu Dhabi living with MS ‘more than double global average’

MS unpleasant but manageable

‘Living with MS is all about not giving up’

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“I took him once to a centre in Jordan but they lied to me. They promised to help him but I found out that they were beating him and locking him up,” she says.

For the past few years, Zaid has been spending his days and nights on the couch in the living room of their three-bedroom apartment.

The family has not had any visitors for more than ten years because almost everyone is afraid of their son.

“Zaid loves people and he will always reach out to touch them and hold their hands. It scares everyone and it has been so long since anyone has knocked our door.

"He is very sick and we are all sick seeing him this way. I am not happy, no one in this house is. When I see Zaid laugh, I am happy and it feels like the entire world is laughing.

“Every few months, I’ll go out to visit a friend who is in the hospital for example but when I do, I feel guilty. I feel guilty for leaving Zaid.

“We want a good centre to help care for Zaid with professionals to help with physiotherapy and for Zaid to have a social life. He loves people. This is our dream.”