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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

UAE Helping Hands: new parents owe hospital Dh370,000 for son's treatment 

At just two months, doctors told the couple their son needed urgent surgery to treat a blockage in his intestines

DUBAI , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES , JAN 27 – 2018 :- Sai Soe Naung Tun with his wife Naw Nona at their apartment in Al Nahda area in Dubai. They need donations to pay off their son’s medical bills in Dubai. (Pawan Singh / The National) For News. Story by Shareena Al Nuwais.
DUBAI , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES , JAN 27 – 2018 :- Sai Soe Naung Tun with his wife Naw Nona at their apartment in Al Nahda area in Dubai. They need donations to pay off their son’s medical bills in Dubai. (Pawan Singh / The National) For News. Story by Shareena Al Nuwais.

Sai Foe Maung and Naw Nona from Myanmar were college sweethearts.

They married in 2014 and came to Dubai seeking a better life for themselves and their family back home.

“In my country, there aren’t many job opportunities so we were lucky to find a job here,” says Mr Maung, 32.

The couple, who work in customer service and earn a combined salary of a little less than Dh10,000, decided to have a child.

“My pregnancy was going well up until October 6,” Ms Nona, 33, says.

Three months ago, just four weeks from a full term pregnancy, doctors told Ms Nona she had to undergo an emergency caesarean operation or risk losing her child.

“The baby was healthy but doctors said he had an infection which had to be treated by a course of antibiotics.”

She named her newborn boy Agapius, meaning The Divine in Burmese.

Agapius spent twenty days battling the bacteria in the intensive care unit before his parents were able to bring him home.

“I couldn’t wait to take him home,” says Ms Nona. But the couple’s happiness was short-lived.

Just one day later, while nursing, Agapius went quiet. The family rushed to the hospital where doctors admitted the baby to the emergency room, telling Ms Nona that the bacteria had spread.

Not only did her son have an infection but the couple were also told that Agapius had a blockage in his intestines and required urgent surgery.

“My baby kept vomiting and in the beginning they said it was normal but then the vomiting was continuous,” says Mr Maung.

At just two months old Agapius underwent surgery. He would have two more surgeries over the next month.

Doctors say the baby is now healthy and while his parents thought they had seen the end of their worries and could finally bring their son home, they are now face with a mountain of medical bills to pay.

The cost of treatment was not originally a concern for the couple because they assumed their insurance would cover Agapius’ care. “My wife’s insurance paid Dh150,000 and I applied for my son’s insurance and it covered Dh160,000 but that still wasn’t enough.”

The couple still owe the hospital Dh370,000 and have had to submit their passports and a blank cheque as a guarantee.

“I told them that I did not have the money,” Mr Maung says. “But they assured me that a charity would help.” The couple have been unable to raise the amount.

“I just want to take my baby home,” says Ms Nona, who dreams of her son growing up to become a pastor.

“I just had one day with him. It has been the worst three months in my life.”

She spends every spare hour she has at the hospital, rushing to be at her baby’s side every day after finishing her shift at the sales department where she works.

Agapius is still in the neonatal intensive unit as doctors are waiting for him to gain weight before he can be discharged.

“I can’t pay the amount alone,” asks Ms Nona who only wishes to remain by her son’s side.

Hisham Al Zahrani, manager of Zakat and Social Services at Dar Al Ber, is appealing to the public on behalf of the couple to help raise funds so they might settle their debt with the hospital and bring their baby home.

“The couple have not had the chance to be with their first born child. The baby will be discharged but they will live under the threat and fear of an outstanding hospital bill which they can never pay off without assistance from the community,” he says.

“This is a couple who has health insurance, they both work very hard and are only seeking charity because they have no other option.”

salnuwais@thenational.ae