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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 June 2018

UAE Helping Hands: boy faces permanent disability and scarring after acid spills on him

The boy's father is unable to afford his son's medication because he earns less than Dh6,000 and is uninsured

Abdul Rehman, 4, was badly burned three months ago after he accidentally tipped a can of acid onto himself. His father, Mohammed Iqbal, is uninsured and is struggling to pay for his medication. Satish Kumar for The National
Abdul Rehman, 4, was badly burned three months ago after he accidentally tipped a can of acid onto himself. His father, Mohammed Iqbal, is uninsured and is struggling to pay for his medication. Satish Kumar for The National

Seeing the skin burn off his son’s flesh is an image Mohammed Iqbal says he will never forget.

Mr Iqbal was walking into his house from work three months ago when he heard his son screaming in pain.

Moments before, four-year-old Abdulrehman had reached into a cupboard and accidentally spilled a can filled with acid onto himself, his mother just metres away.

“I cannot tell or describe to you that day. It is a nightmare. All my senses were gone,” his father says.

The Pakistani family had moved into their new home in Dubai just months before, with the previous home-owners promising to come back and remove the old furniture they had left behind. Among them was the can in a small cupboard in the kitchen.

What a can of acid was doing in the kitchen is a mystery to Mr Iqbal.

“If I knew that this dangerous substance was in our house, I would have immediately disposed of it,” the father of two says.

The acid spilled over Abdulrehman’s body, hands and parts of his face.

Mr Iqbal immediately called the ambulance who asked him what the substance was but no one knew.

He swears that when the emergency services team rushed in and thew the remaining acid onto the street, “the road broke. Imagine, that poison fell on my baby’s skin,” he says.

Abdulrehman spent two months in intensive care at a government hospital in the emirate, his medical fees cost the family Dh70,000.

Mr Iqbal earns less than Dh6,000 and is uninsured. He says his employers refuse to give him health insurance and have blamed him for his son’s accident.

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Read more:

Don’t use acid to unclog drains, UAE residents warned

Mandatory health insurance in Dubai: All you need to know with time almost up

Under-5s at risk from burn injuries in the home

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He managed to pay off the hospital fee with the help of a friend but his son is far from healed.

His screams of pain wake the entire household almost daily, Mr Iqbal says.

Abdulrehman requires creams, medication and specialized clothing that help his wounds heal.

“I need the health insurance so I can take Abdulrehman to his appointments and buy his medication,” Mr Iqbal says. Abdulrehman’s skin burns and itches and as he is unable to control the urge to itch, his body is covered in scabs and the wounds are not healing correctly.

The special garments that reduce itching and help the burns heal cost around Dh10,000 and must be replaced every few months.

Mr Iqbal says his son desperately needs them but he has only been able to afford one set which now needs replacing.

“I can’t tell you the difference it made with my son,” he says.

“I can’t tell you the suffering my son is going through and we are suffering seeing him this way. The creams help but I can’t afford to buy them or anything without health insurance.”

Hisham Al Zahrani, manager of Zakat and Social Services at Dar Al Ber, says Abdulrehman also needs silicon sheets - which cost D1,000 each - as part of his treatment.

“Without treatment his son will be left with permanent scars and suffer from physical disabilities as the burns have also affected his ability walk,” says Mr Al Zahrani.

Mr Iqbal has ordered the garments for his son but cannot afford to pay for them.

“We hope that readers can help cover theses costs and alleviate the pain and suffering of this baby,” says Mr Al Zahrani.

Health insurance in Dubai is mandatory when renewing employment visas but Mr Iqbal says he had renewed his visa before the law was introduced.

salnuwais@thenational.ae

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