Baby Ethan with his parents, Romeo and Charmyl. Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: If Charmyl Meneses’ tears for her son born extremely premature last year was of pain and sorrow months ago, they now are of joy, gratitude and hope.

Charmyl was not only battling anxiety for her son, Baby Ethan, who has been in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) since October. She and her husband were also facing a mountain of hospital debt for their son’s care.

Baby Ethan weighed 650 grams when he was born on October 4. His body was slightly bigger than a 500ml bottle of water.

But this is now the least of their worries. An anonymous businessman paid for Ethan’s hospital bills of more than half a million dirhams after Gulf News published their plea for help in March.

“When I learnt about it, I couldn’t help but cry out of amazement and gratitude because I know it is God who made it possible. I went to church right after work that day to thank God for the miracle He sent our way!” Charmyl, who works in the banking sector, exclaimed.

Romeo, Charmyl’s husband, also could not contain his joy.

“This is so overwhelming! The hospital told us that someone who did not want to be named paid the bills in both hospitals,” Romeo said, choking back his tears.

“But that’s not all,” the father of two said. “The hospital said the donor has promised to pay for the remaining bill until our son is discharged.

“Some Gulf News readers and some staff of the newspaper also extended Dh6,040, the full amount of which was paid directly to UHS.”

Baby Ethan was born on October 4 at Prime Hospital after a gestation period of just 23 weeks. He weighed hardly 650 grams.

He was transferred to the University Hospital Sharjah (UHS) 22 days later. Despite his tiny frame, Baby Ethan has fought through all the complications and numerous operations. He was diagnosed with bronchopulmonary dysplasia, a chronic lung disease common among extremely premature babies.

Gulf News contacted UHS and Prime Hospital and both hospitals confirmed that the bills had been paid.

“Ethan’s parents asked the public for assistance with this financial burden, last month. On March 18, an anonymous donor graciously donated Dh481,095, which covered Ethan’s care through the end of February. All of us at UHS and Ethan’s parents express our most sincere gratitude for the public’s assistance now and in the future,” Professor Hakam Yaseen, consultant neonatologist and medical director at the UHS, told Gulf News.

An official from Prime Hospital also confirmed the news. “The donor read the story in Gulf News and decided to extend help. But he wants to remain anonymous as part of the agreement. He personally came to the hospital to pay for the bill of Dh95,000,” the official told Gulf News, adding the hospital also waived some of the fees to help Romeo and Charmyl.

Upon learning this, Charmyl said: “I would like to thank the generous donor from the bottom of my heart for his kindness and generosity. I pray that God would bless him exceedingly. To everyone else who rallied support for our son, thank you,” she added.

Charmyl also thanked doctors and the medical teams at Prime Hospital and UHS who made sure of Ethan’s safe delivery and survival.

“Thank you, Gulf News, for being the instrument for us to receive this blessing and hope. During our lowest moments, we just found refuge in God through prayer. God never failed us.”

Prof Yakeen said Ethan is now moving normally and has a healthy appetite for bottled milk. He is being provided with a minimal requirement of 25 per cent oxygen, down from the 70 per cent oxygen he initially required.

“Although he has mild difficulty breathing, we expect that he will improve within the next three to four weeks. Then will be discharged home.”