in good hands: Fahad, Somaiya and baby Rania cut the birthday cake at the Mediclinic City Hospital with Dr Azizunnisa Shaikh, left Image Credit:

Dubai: A hospital for a birthday party venue is perhaps unheard of. But little Rania’s parents could think of no better place than the Mediclinic City Hospital in Dubai to mark her first birthday on March 31.

As Rania cut a two-tier butter cream rosette cake at the hospital, her parents Somaiya and Fahad Iyoob, Pakistan-born Canadians, said it was a special moment being shared with special people --- the doctors and nurses who saved her life.

In the pink of health, Rania wore a pink outfit with a rose head band that matched the roses on the birthday cake, the harmony belying the ordeal she and her family went through when she first arrived.

Born prematurely at 26 weeks, Rania’s first birthday was as much a celebration of survival as it was a tribute to the people who made it possible.

Dr Azizunnisa Shaikh, Specialist Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, recollected the difficult circumstances under which Rania was delivered.

“Her mother Somaiya who was consulting another doctor was about to miscarry when she first came to us. The neck of her womb was completely open and the baby’s bag was about to come out. I told her things were not good at all but we agreed we could take a chance and stitch the neck of the womb.”

But just when they thought they had saved the pregnancy, Somaiya developed a severe infection and had to undergo an emergency C-section. “It was risky for both mother and daughter but Somaiya’s will power and faith in God saw them through.”

Rania’s father Fahad, a Pakistan-born Canadian banker, said he fainted on that trying day. And what followed didn’t help matters. “Rania was in the NICU for 103 days and on the ventilator for nine weeks. She suffered several lung collapses, multiple blood transfusions, a severe e-coli infection, profuse bleeding in the brain and an open PDA.”

But he said the little fighter turned the corner with generous help from the doctors and nurses. “We don’t realise what the doctors and nurses go through when they deal with such cases. They are as stressed as we are.”

Holding back her tears, Somaiya, who has been breastfeeding Rania all along, said she is in perfect health now. “She owes it all to the doctors and nurses who spent so much time with her in the initial months.”

The hospital staff were the only guests invited for the birthday party. There was the immediate family, of course – Somaiya’s parents Nasir Hussain and Tahsen Sakrani and her sister Bahsam. “We’re missing my husband’s parents who couldn’t make it from our hometown in Pakistan. And also, my niece and sister-in-law. But otherwise, it’s the doctors and nurses who matter to us. They are like family. I want my daughter to grow up knowing them.”

Hospital Director Dr Tarek Fathey presented a small gift voucher to Rania on behalf of the staff.

Julie Reynolds, Head Nurse at the NICU, said: “Isn’t she is a gorgeous little lady now?”

But as grand mum Tahsen put it, “Rania is a miracle child. A blessing from God.”