Charity initiative. Alaa Uldin with Dr Walid Shaker recovering in Burjeel Hospital after undergoing free heart surgery Image Credit: Supplied

ABU DHABI: Burjeel Hospital has announced 200 free open heart surgeries this year for patients who can’t afford the expensive procedure.

“Only adults with valid UAE residence visas, especially those without medical insurance will be considered,” said Dr. Walid Shaker, consultant and head of cardiac surgery at the hospital.

Dr Shaker said the hospital has set up a committee of medical experts to scan the profiles of patients who want to take up the free surgery offer. “We are asking patients to give proof of their financial status by submitting a bank statement. Cases requiring immediate surgery will be prioritised.

So far 10 patients have benefited from the charity initiative which was launched as part of the Year of Giving in February.

Case studies

Among them is 62-year-old Sudanese widow Hanan Hussein. “She was at severe risk of heart failure as she could barely walk a few paces without gasping for breath,” recalled Dr Shaker. “She had constant chest pain and her condition was fast deteriorating. An Emirati woman in Al Ain heard about our initiative and brought Hanan to us. We did a coronary bypass and now she is making a steady recovery,” he added.

Syrian father of two Alaa Uldin, 48, who earns Dh3,000 per month, said the hospital has given him a new lease of life by performing a free open heart surgery on him which would have cost him Dh150,000.

“There was no way I could have afforded it. My heart was failing and I was losing hope until someone told me about the free surgeries.

“I was still sceptical when I went to Burjeel Hospital with my medical reports. Imagine my surprise when the doctors told me that they will conduct the procedure without me having to pay anything,” he said. Another beneficiary, Safia Farah Jama, 61, said she had resigned herself to fate because she had no money to remove a tennis ball size tumour in her heart. “The tumour affected the flow of blood to the heart causing dizzy spells. My doctors said I needed surgery immediately but the cost was so prohibitive I never considered it. Thankfully, Burjeel Hospital came to my rescue and now I am fine,” she said.