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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 December 2018

UAE Helping Hands: Winter months critical for baby who struggles to breathe on her own

Child needs injections to survive

John Fam holds his daughter Marly who requires life saving injections to help her breathe during the winter. Victor Besa for The National
John Fam holds his daughter Marly who requires life saving injections to help her breathe during the winter. Victor Besa for The National

An oxygen tank breathes for baby Marly through day and night. Born with weak lungs, the one-year-old struggles to breathe on her own.

Worried that the child’s oxygen levels may drop her mother Mariana Aziz does not leave her side.

While UAE residents look forward to the coming winter, the cooler months are the family’s greatest fear.

“During the winter, Marly is prone to getting pneumonia and needs to be admitted to the hospital,” says John Fam, Marly’s father about their only child.

Since her premature birth in June last year, Marly has been admitted to the hospital twice. The worst memories for the couple have been rushing their baby to the neo natal intensive care unit as she fights to breathe.

Marly must take a vaccine to prevent a recurrence of the emergency dash to the hospital. The injections cost around Dh4,000 each and have to be taken during the winter to help her recover.

“Marly needs two injections to be taken once a month for four months, that is around Dh9,000 per month,” Mr Aziz said.

The family’s health insurance did not cover the injections or the hospital stay.

Hisham Al Zahrani, manager of Zakat and Social Services at Dar Al Ber said the vaccine was critical to the child’s survival.

“Without these injections, the baby’s recovery will be delayed and she will regularly be admitted to the hospital,” he said.

“It is very difficult for a parent to see their child gasping for breath and rushed to the emergency unit. With the weather changing, she needs to take the vaccine immediately or she will have another life threatening episode.”

The financial burden has the family worried with the hospital bill totalling Dh800,000 when Marly required neo natal care for six months after she was born.

“It was getting too expensive to keep her in the hospital so we took her home,” Ms Aziz said.

The family were later able to settle hospital costs with help from health authorities but cannot afford the injections that are required every winter.

“Hopefully Marly will completely recover and no longer need them,” she said.

The Egyptian couple hope their daughter will gain sufficient strength to travel and meet her grandparents in the future.

“In her current condition, doctors said that Marly cannot travel. My parents want to meet their granddaughter but until she gets better, we can’t take her back home,” Ms Aziz said.

salnuwais@thenational.ae