Dubai: Two days after his 22nd wedding anniversary in July 2017, B. Ahmad Ummaid Ali’s life changed forever.
The 64-year-old Pakistani expat — who moved to the UAE when he was 13 and worked his way up to become a partner of a building contracting firm in Dubai — suffered a stroke that made him lose his speech.
With a history of diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia and previous strokes in 2008 and 2014, Ali then suffered another stroke after three days in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of NMC Speciality Hospital in Al Nahda. That left him paralysed on his right side and dependent on a tube for food intake.
After prolonged treatment, including physiotherapy, he was improving, said his wife K. Begum.
“He started to move his right hand and could rotate his leg. Finally he was discharged after 25 days in the ICU and a month in a general ward.”
Within five days of going home, however, he was readmitted with diarrhoea and dehydration.
Diagnosed with septic shock, gastroenteritis and acute renal failure, doctors initially gave him just hours to live.
“Doctors were very good, attended to him immediately and did everything they could,” said Begum.
“By the grace of God he survived, but he was on a ventilator for a week before being discharged after another 25 days in ICU and a month or so again in a general ward.”
The hospital bill came to Dh216,771 of which Dh151,160 remains to be paid. However, Ali was allowed to go home after the hospital kept a copy of his Emirates ID card as a guarantee, said Begum.
The financial strain of these events forced the family to sell their two cars and other assets.
Because he was not in work, a cheque of Dh19,800 to cover the rent of his employees’ accommodation in Dubai Industrial City also bounced, resulting in a police case against him.
“The amount has now become Dh51,000 after adding miscellaneous charges,” said Begum. “Because of that, his trade licence was banned,” she claimed.
The health issues also didn’t stop there. He developed severe gangrene on his right foot in March last year but couldn’t go back to NMC due to the outstanding bill. He went to Dubai Hospital where his leg had to be amputated the next day.
He was discharged after 15 days but again had to be readmitted in October and December of last year. The Dubai Hospital bill now stands at Dh97,408. With a total debt of around Dh300,000, the family was also thrown out of their house for not paying the rent. That resulted in another case and left them homeless.
They slept in their car for several days until a well-wisher took them in. On top of this, they also became illegal residents because Ali’s visa had expired and hence his dependents’ visas could not be renewed.
While Begum secured amnesty to send her two elder daughters back to Pakistan, she and her youngest son remain here without valid documents.
A family friend, who has given shelter to the family since February, said she had initially arranged a rented room for them after she found out they were living in a car.
“But, they were kicked out from there also,” said the friend, who wishes to remain anonymous. “Since then I have accommodated them in my house. It is difficult for me also to permanently support them.
I hope some philanthropists will come forward to help them solve their problems,” she added.
“I am very hopeful that if the cases are settled and if uncle Ali gets some medical help he will stand up and they will be able to make both ends meet eventually.”