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Durdana Khawer has been bedridden after suffering a fall while staying with her daughter in Abu Dhabi. Her family is facing a difficult time after her visit visa lapsed on April 1. Image Credit: Nathalie Farah/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Durdana Khawer was scheduled to return home to Pakistan having spent a happy month with her daughter's family in Abu Dhabi. An unfortunate turn of events, however, has left her hospitalised since February. A bad fall left the 53-year-old partially paralysed and her visit visa has since expired as her medical bills have been steadily piling up.

"The fall on February 9 left her unconscious. The trauma resulted in bleeding in her brain and the left side of her body is completely paralysed. I am so worried about her," Durdana's husband Mahmoud Khawer told Gulf News.

The 67-year-old former professor returned to Pakistan when his visit visa expired on April 1. He however indicated that doctors had informed him that his wife would require six more months of physiotherapy and rehabilitation in order to regain the ability to stand. She is currently being treated at the Shaikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC).

"She is still in the ICU, and I am trying to acquire another visit visa to be with her," he said. In the meantime, Durdana's daughter and son-in-law take turns to be by her side.

Insurance issues

"We visit her every day and the hospital authorities are providing the best care to help my mother-in-law recover. Initially, the Al Wathba National Insurance Company which provided the insurance policy for her visit visa hesitated to pay the costs," said Syed Zahid Hassan, 37, Durdana's son-in-law and a systems analyst.

"This was a constant source of worry and it led me to approach the Health Authority Abu Dhabi [Haad] to file a complaint," he added.

When contacted by Gulf News, a representative from Haad confirmed that the case was being investigated.

Gulf News also contacted the insurance company to follow up on Durdana's case. After repeated attempts, Al Wathba issued a statement to Hassan indicating they would cover her medical expenses up to a limit of Dh150,000 as stated in the policy issued to her.

In order to obtain a visit visa in Abu Dhabi, a health insurance policy must be furnished along with the visa application form. The policy covers the visitor for the duration of their stay.

Durdana's total medical bill has already risen above Dh170,000.

"Since we paid for my mother-in-law's initial treatment at Al Noor Hospital, I requested that the amount be reimbursed to us. The remaining amount will be given to cover her expenses at SKMC to date. Unfortunately, that means that there is still over Dh20,000 remaining along with any additional charges incurred until she is discharged," Hassan said.

Financial strain

"We will, of course, continue to care for her but are despairing over how to pay the additional amounts as they are very high," he added.

Another dilemma Hassan is facing is how to renew Durdana's visit visa, which expired on April 1.

"When I visited the Immigration Department [General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners' Affairs] last week, I was told that her visa could not be renewed or extended. Despite providing all the relevant documents in Arabic as requested, I was informed that I still need to pay the Dh100 daily fine until her issue is resolved," he said.

The officials also advised Hassan that he could approach the courts once his mother-in-law was discharged from hospital and work out a means to settle the outstanding amount.

"By the time she leaves the hospital, the amount may reach Dh20,000. I hope to approach the Immigration Department today to find a solution to this matter," he said yesterday.

"I humbly request the authorities to consider providing various visa options for those who are in situations like my mother-in-law, as no one places themselves in such a serious medical condition voluntarily. She does not have anyone in Pakistan and my wife is the only one who can help and care for her when she leaves the hospital," he added.

Durdana's medical expenses are mounting daily, and since her emergency insurance policy only offers coverage up to Dh150,000, her family must still find a way to pay the remaining Dh20,000, along with additional hospital charges for the duration of her treatment.