Mohammad Ashfaq and his wife Shahin Aktar with the twins. The couple say they are at their wits end over mounting expenses and have no idea how to clear the existing bill of Dh200,000. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: Mohammad Ashfaq and his wife Shaheen Akhtar—who  were blessed with twins—have no idea how to foot the Dh200,000 bill amassed on account of the twins’ premature birth.

Ashfaq, 32, is a Pakistani expatriate working as a delivery boy for a local company and has insurance cover only for himself. He has been getting daily phones calls from Latifa Hospital, where the babies were born, as he had to give post-dated cheques to them. Now he has no idea how he will honour those cheques.

“My wife Shaheen and her sister are twins, probably that is how she conceived twins the second time. We have a five-year old daughter earlier.

“The hospital where she was going for regular check-ups revealed to us she was carrying twins when she was in the fifth month of her pregnancy and also told us that since the babies shared the same placenta, they were not equipped to handle the complication. One of the babies was not receiving enough nutrition and had low chances of survival, they told us,” recounted Ashfaq.

The couple were directed to a private hospital where they were told it would cost them Dh3,800 each time the babies were scanned. “I earn a salary of Dh4,800, per month. How could I afford such a steep price for scanning?” asked Ashfaq.

Another patient directed the couple to Latifa Hospital and they arrived when Shaheen was six and a half months pregnant. She was admitted as an emergency case as the weaker baby‘s heartbeats had become faint.

On December 24, 2014, she delivered her babies prematurely at seven months and two weeks and the newborns were put in incubators. The healthier baby was born with a weight of 1.74kg and the second, weaker baby was born with a weight of 1.06kg.

The first baby stayed in the incubator for 15 days and the second for nearly a month. But after the infants were discharged, Shaheen was readmitted to the hospital with heavy bleeding. The cost jumped from Dh150,000 to approximately Dh200,000.

Meanwhile, a nurse from Latifa Hosptial has advised him to get the twins vaccinated againt Respiratory Synctial Virus that leads to cough and the respiratory disease Bronchiolitis, the cost for which comes to nearly Dh8,000 for two units. According to Dr Vidya Narayan, specialist paediatrician at Prime Hospital, this is a passive vaccination given to infants to boost their immunity.

“Normally, older children and adults usually are able to fight back, but bronchiolitis can be fatal for premature or sick babies. This injection will introduce antibodies for the virus that will help the babies develop their own immunity to it.”

The couple simply cannot afford the mounting expenses and have no idea how to clear the existing bill.

“I have each and every invoice and had to give post dated cheques to the hospital. But with my low salary there is no way I can afford this bill. I am getting a call daily from the hospital. I have been so worried about the funds that I have not had time to enjoy the birth of my sons and to give them names up to now. I haven’t even gone back to collect their birth certificates as I am afraid they might detain me for payments,” said Ashfaq who is pleading for help from good Samaritans to bail him out of this situation.