The birth of her baby boy has healed an expat mother’s COVID-19 sufferings in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: SEHA

Abu Dhabi: The birth of her baby boy has healed an expat mother’s COVID-19 sufferings and resulting near-death experience.

Asfia Samreen delivered her baby boy in September, after having contracted COVID-19 in May. “Congratulations to Asfia Samreen, who after a long and difficult battle with COVID-19 in the final trimester of her pregnancy, delivered a healthy baby boy,” the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha) announced on its social media platforms on Wednesday.

It was a miraculous escape for the Indian homemaker from a series of troubles started with her expired medical insurance, the much-needed protection during the pregnancy. Her husband, an electrical engineer, could not get his family's medical insurance renewed as his employer was going through a crisis, reported Wam.

“This was all possible thanks to Mrs Samreen’s perseverance, and the hard work, dedication and care of the medical teams at both Corniche Hospital and Sheikh Shakhbout Medical City (SSMC),” Abu Dhabi’s public health provider added.

Samreen was in the 24th week of her pregnancy when she tested positive on May 6. She was admitted to Cornich Hospital, the capital’s premier public maternity hospital, on May 7.

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“At one point, the doctors had thought of inducing an early delivery of the baby as they were not sure of saving my life,” Samreen said.

Dr Saleema Wani, senior obstetrician and gynaecology consultant at Corniche Hospital, said Sameera was gravely unwell.

“She was in critical condition. We had to discuss with the family whether to induce an early delivery. We agreed to let the pregnancy progress normally,” Dr Wani said.

Samreen was eventually moved to SSMC as her condition worsened, and remained unconscious for five days. She finally regained consciousness on May 18, and was finally discharged in the first week of June.

The mother-to-be continued her treatment at Corniche Hospital, and her son, Mohammed Abdul Haseeb, was born on September 13.

According to Dr Wani, Samreen’s case was especially challenging but the treatment proved successful thanks to the teamwork of the hospital staff.

The mother herself has found a new lease on life. She calls this “her second life”, and has said she wants to live in the UAE forever.

According to WAM report, she had to pay for regular check-ups at a private hospital, adding the financial burden on her husband who was not getting regular salary because of the crisis at workplace. He was struggling to take care of the five-member family, including three children aged 7, 6 and 3.

During a regular check-up, the doctor asked Samreen to test for COVID-19 for having some symptoms and she was shocked to get a positive result on 6th May.

Subsequently, her husband also tested positive for COVID-19, said the woman from south Indian city of Hyderabad. On 7th May, Samreen was  suffering from multiple ailments and got admitted at the Corniche Hospital in Abu Dhabi. Although she did not have a medical insurance, the hospital under  SEHA, offered her all necessary treatments.

Critical with multiple ailments

"I had severe cough, diarrhea and breathing problems and could not speak at all. They immediately put an oxygen mask on me. I was conscious but I had no idea about what was going on," Samreen tries to recollect.

"Only one thing I clearly remember is the love and care of Dr. Saleema Wani and a team of nurses. They comforted and supported me and instilled confidence and hope in me."

Later, they told her that she was continuously asking to meet her husband but it was impossible, as he was also a COVID patient. He was asymptomatic and hence quarantined at home.

Dr Wani says "Upon admission, Samreen was in such a critical condition that we had to discuss with her and her husband whether to induce an early delivery or let the pregnancy take its normal course.

"We agreed with the family to take the challenge and let the pregnancy progress normally, ensuring tight follow-up." Samreen says she still feels the painful sufferings of COVID. "Apparently it severely affected my lungs. I had a high fever as well."

Near-death experience

After seven days, as her condition worsened, she was moved to SSMC, the UAE's largest hospital for serious and complex care, under SEHA. She was unconscious for the next five days (13th to 17th May) as her respiratory system and kidneys were dysfunctional.

Later she was told that the doctors were preparing to conduct a C-section and deliver the baby as her condition further worsened on May 13th and 14th. "They told me that I was about to die so they wanted to save the baby, although I didn't know anything."

When she regained consciousness on 18th May, it was a touching experience to see a team of doctors and nurses around her with prayers and smiles.

Multi-faith prayers by hospital staff

"They said the entire staff at SMCC and Corniche Hospital were constantly praying for me, along with my family. It was heartening to see people from different religions – Christians, Muslims, Hindus and others – were praying together for me. I felt blessed to come back to life."

She was not in a position to move her limbs and remained on ventilator until 23rd May and in ICU until 3nd June.