Dubai: Kaniz Shaikh, 36, has not seen herself in the mirror in the last nine months. Once a social media influencer who would often post pictures of herself on Instagram, she suffered horrific burn injuries in a piped gas explosion in her apartment in Bur Dubai on September 28 last year. Shaikh subsequently underwent treatment and moved to another apartment in Deira, but she hasn’t stepped out ever since as she is in constant pain and worries she will frighten the neighbours away.
The gas explosion, which occurred when a faulty gas pipeline was being repaired, claimed the life of one tenant, injured three and rendered many homeless. Kaniz was admitted to the intensive care unit at Rashid Hospital with 75 per cent burns. She hung between life and death for more than three months with severe infection, including pneumonia. She underwent several surgeries to treat her wounds and was discharged on December 26.
Her traumatised husband Muhib Shaikh, 39, said it is bad enough to see his wife suffer so much. Worse, she had not received any compensation so far.
Working for a real estate firm, Muhib is desperately appealing for help as he claims he can barely afford their living, let alone his wife's treatment, after his salary has been drastically cut.
“It is so difficult for me to see my once beautiful and bubbly wife in so much pain. She can barely hold her head or walk, she needs assistance for everything. I cook, clean, feed, bathe and help her with her clothes every day. She is in so much pain and feels as though a thousand pins and needles are piercing through her. She cannot close her eyes properly because of a scar tissue. Her eyes keep getting dry. She has pigmentation, discolouration and hypertrophic scars all over her body. Contractures prevent her fingers from opening,” said Muhib.
In January, when Muhib resumed work, he had initially hired a part-time help to look after his wife while he was away. “But after COVID-19 struck, my salary was cut drastically and I had to do away with the help. Now I make a sandwich for my wife and leave it for her before I leave for work. She struggles to have that by herself. In the evening, when I come home from work, I clean up and try to cheer her. My money has run out; I cannot afford medicines. I just pray to the Almighty to protect her while I am away. It is so difficult for me to see her this way and I wish I could get her all the medical help she needs,” added Muhib.
Praying for a miracle
He said Kaniz needs at least six or seven plastic surgeries and skin transplants to free her of the contractures that are restricting her movement. “Each surgery costs an estimated Dh35,000. Plus she needs regular physiotherapy. There is an open wound on her ankle which refuses to heal as she needs yet another skin transplant,” said Muhib, wishing for a miracle that could provide some relief for his wife.
He said her basic insurance plan does not cover her doctors’ consultations, physiotherapy or medicines now. “She is depressed and asks me if she will ever be well again. She needs psychological counselling too, but even that is not covered under insurance.”
Four years ago, when the Shaikhs got married, they had no idea that their world would turn topsy turvy. They fell in love with each other in Mumbai, India, and were married in 2016. They moved to Dubai with big dreams and were leading a happy life until the fateful day on September 29.
Kaniz, who was going to the gym for a workout, stopped to let the gas mechanics come in and check her piped gas supply as it had not been working for two days. She was several feet away from the mechanics, but she still received the brunt of the burn injuries while the mechanic near the gas stove received 40 per cent burns. “I wish I had not let the mechanic enter the house that day and continued to the gym,” Kaniz whispered.