Dubai: Five years after she actually had a proper sun-and-sand experience at the beach, Fatma Zaal Zaal Al Khamis was actually able to savour the briny air and hear the calming lap of waves at 7am on Wednesday morning at the Jumeirah Beach here from a hospital stretcher.
Tethered safely to the stretcher and assisted by a team of nurses, paramedics and doctors of Prime Hospital, Al Khamis was wheeled as close to the waves as possible as she silently watched the beautiful sunrise and listened to the waves -- her masked face looking blissful, her tired eyes squinting in the sunlight. She whispered Jazzakahllah (may God bless you) to the doctor and the nurses. Her voice, hoarse due to the number of tubes fixed to assist her, sounded happy and calm.
It might have been the last time the 72-year-old terminally-ill widow visited the beach. Her body ravaged by a bunch of co-morbidities including diabetes, stroke and hypertension, had already become very frail. Only this year, the doctors at Prime Hospital discovered that she had cervical cancer that had metastasised into various other organs.
Dr Dirar Abdallah, Consultant Internal Medicine and Chair of Medicine at Prime Hospital, who accompanied the patient in the ambulance to the beach told Gulf News: “Fatma is like family to us now. For the last two years, she has been in and out of the hospital several times. She had diabetes and hypertension, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, then she suffered a stroke and was treated.
"Six weeks ago, when she was admitted to the ICU, we discovered that she also had stage four cervical cancer which had metastasised in her abdomen. We have carried out some palliative care surgeries to make her comfortable and are giving her palliative medicines to keep her pain free. There is not much we can do. For many years, Fatma has been confined to the bed and has been unable to go out and experience the outdoors. She has been really desiring to feel the beach air on the face and hear the waves. Since her distant relative his her caregiver, we at the hospital have become her extended family and decided to do our best to give her this happiness.”
Marianne Siritanu, director of Nursing at Prime Hospital, who accompanied the patient, told Gulf News: “This is the first time we decided to fulfil the wish of a terminally-ill patient. The staff members at the ICU are emotionally attached to Fatma and since she requested many times to visit the beach, we decided to make it possible for her. I got together with the ICU nurse, the home-care nurse, the ambulance paramedics, Dr Abdallah and myself along with the ambulance driver and made sure we had everything in the ambulance to help the patient. We carried all the medicines, oxygen etc along with the staff who could intervene in case of any emergency for this trip.
"It was only a 20-minute stay at the beach, but it took us days to plan and make it possible. We are so happy we were able to give so much happiness to Fatma. She blessed all of us.”