Baby Mohammad was born with a congenital heart defect that led him to suffer from breathlessness and poor blood circulation which led him to turn blue in the face. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: A nine-month-old baby boy’s life was saved at the only specialist paediatric heart centre for Dubai and Northern Emirates.

The surgery was carried out in August, with the timely charity of approximately Dh100,000 by Al Jalila Foundation that responded to the appeal of the baby’s father, a truck driver by profession who was unable to afford the cost of the surgery.

Baby Mohammad Abdullah Assad Esmail, the only child of Ajman residents Abdullah Assad Esmail and wife Khadija Al Juniadi, was born with a congenital heart defect that led him to suffer from breathlessness and poor blood circulation which led him to turn blue in the face.

Esmail approached Dr Ahmad Al Kamali, director of the heart centre at Al Jalila Children’s Speciality Hospital for help.

Four defects in the heart

Dr Al Kamali told Gulf News: “The baby was diagnosed with a congenital heart disease called Tetralogy of Fallot. This is a condition characterised by four defects in the heart. These include a ventricular septal defect, which means the wall between the lower chambers of the heart has a hole.

"In addition, Mohammad’s heart had a pulmonary stenosis where the exit point from his right ventricle was narrowed, hampering the circulation of deoxygenated blood," the specialist explained

"He also had an hypertrophied right ventricle (enlarged right ventricle) and he had an overriding aorta which allows mixed blood from both the ventricles to flow to the aorta.

"These four conditions were part of the Tetralogy of Fallot diagnosis which occurs in one in 2,000 babies. In addition, the baby also had a major coronary artery crossing the outlet of the ventricle.”

Dr Jameel Khan Thareen, consultant paediatric cardiac surgeon, who was part of the medical team, explained that the conditions had made the baby very weak.

Frequent cyanotic spells 

“At nine months, he weighed only 8.4kg. The baby was experiencing frequent cyanotic spells, which means he was experiencing lack of oxygen that caused a bluish discolouration and gasping for breath frequently, from the age of four months.”

Dr Roberto Di Donato, consultant heart surgeon, explained how they carried out a five-hour surgery to save the baby’s life.

“With a host of complicating conditions, the surgery was challenging, as we wanted to make sure we addressed all the issues that the child had with minimum surgical aggression," said Dr. Di Donato

"The surgery involved a complete correction of the Tetraology of Fallot, in which all four defects were repaired and the native pulmonary valve was persevered without damaging the ventricle or the pulmonary artery.”


Mohammad has since recovered and become healthy weighing about 12kg now.

His father, expressed the unbounded joy and relief he and his wife felt while holding Mohammad in their arms after the surgery.

“We thank God Almighty that our son has improved so much and we would like to thank the doctors for giving the best treatment to my baby who is now happily settling back in our Ajman home.”

Talking about his financial difficulties, Esmail said: “We faced a lot of challenges in the beginning [due to it], however, Al Jalila Foundation quickly responded to our appeal and took care of all the expenses for the operation including the costs of the follow-ups and medication.

"The cost totalled nearly Dh100,000. As a truck driver, I wouldn’t have been able to pay for all these costs. Our doctor, Dr Ahmad Al Kamali, referred us to approach the humanitarian section of the hospital that put in touch with Al Jalila Foundation.”

Al Jalila Children’s Speciality Hospital offers state-of-the-art paediatric cardiology in Dubai and the Northern Emirates and conducts complicated heart surgeries on infants as young as a few days old. Since it began surgeries since 2015, the heart centre has conducted more than 100 complex heart surgeries.

With inputs from Mary Achkanian, Staff Reporter


A helping hand for the needy

Al Jalila Foundation, through its A’awen programme, provides financial support for medical treatment to patients in the UAE who are unable to afford quality treatment.

Since its inception in 2013, Al Jalila Foundation has supported more than 270 patients, including 62 children, with a number of chronic illnesses and life-threatening conditions.

Expressing happiness at the recovery of Baby Mohammad, Dr Abdul Kareem Al Olama, CEO of Al Jalila Foundation, told Gulf News: “Research has made such life-saving medical procedures possible and provides patients with an improved quality of life. We work with renowned health-care partners, such as Al Jalila Children’s Speciality Hospital, to provide medical treatment to address life-threatening conditions as in Mohammed’s case.”

“Through A’awen, our medical treatment support programme, we are able to offer hope and healing to patients in need of quality medical care. We are grateful to our partners, sponsors and the community for helping us raise funds to help patients to live happier and more productive lives.”

Click here for details of Al Jalila Foundation's charity projects.


500 babies born with congenital heart disease each year

Abu Dhabi: Due to genetic factors, newborn children in the UAE are prone to more complex heart defects than newborns in other parts of the world, a top paediatric cardiologist has said.

While heart diseases are the most common congenital diseases in the world, newborn children in the UAE often suffer from complicated conditions like missing heart chambers, or holes in complicated locations, Dr Gerard Martin, paediatric cardiology consultant at US-based Children’s National Medical Centre (CNMC), told Gulf News.

“Fortunately, the Shaikh Khalifa Medical City has a fully equipped team of surgeons to deal with such cases,” Dr Martin said.

According to the hospital, about 500 children are born in the UAE each year with congenital heart disease.

The reason for congenital heart disease is not known in up to 77 per cent of cases, and in another 20 per cent cases, it could arise from genetic factors. Half of the defects are holes in the heart, while 20 per cent consist of narrowed or obstructed heart valves.

Another 20 per cent of the defects are complex, like missing chambers or valves. Most need to be treated via surgery, or cardiac catheterisation can be used for mild defects.

Dr Martin was visiting the Abu Dhabi’s Healthpoint hospital for scheduled consultations with patients.

By Samihah Zaman, Staff Reporter