Madiha Amin
Madiha Amin Image Credit: Supplied

Thalassemia patient Madiha Amin had fallen into “deep depression” and accepted that she might not survive for too long after testing positive for coronavirus, but UAE doctors encouraged her to keep fighting.

Amin has battled thalassemia, a chronic blood disorder, and autoimmune haemolytic anemia her whole life. The thirty-five-year-old gets blood transfusions every three weeks.

Her COVID-19 diagnosis was news she was not ready for and her pre-existing condition only made things even more complicated.

Prior to her diagnosis, she had symptoms typically associated with the virus. “I isolated myself from all my relatives as I live in a joint family,” she said.

Amin lives in Sharjah with her siblings and their families. Soon after, she got tested and the results came out positive.

On April 10, Amin was taken to Sharjah’s Kuwait Hospital. After two days, she was transferred to Ras Al Khaimah’s Ibrahim Bin Hamad Obaidullah hospital where she continued her 28-day journey.

“After knowing that I have thalassemia, UAE medical authorities made me a priority. I experienced that in all the emirates I was treated in - Dubai, Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah,” the Pakistani national said.

Prior to her COVID-19 diagnosis, Amin was being treated for the last six months at the Thalassemia Centre in Latifa Women and Children Hospital in Dubai.

“At Ras Al Khaimah, the doctors were collaborating with DHA [Dubai Health Authority], MOHAP [Ministry of Health and Prevention] and those physicians I stayed with for two days in Sharjah, it was great team work,” she said.

"I would get calls from doctors from Dubai asking about my condition," she added.

‘I will not survive…’

However, Amin had initially not taken the news well. “The first thing I thought was that ‘I will not survive this’ and went into deep depression for a week,” she said.

“My focus was on mentally preparing myself that I cannot fight it,” she said.

However, the doctors she met gave her the motivation to battle the deadly virus and her will power took over.

“A doctor told me to think of it as a flu and think positively,” she said.

‘I have to survive this…’

Her condition did not get better initially but her attitude towards it did.

“The first 10 days I had very high fever and my haemoglobin levels were low but I had decided to not give up,” Amin said.

She also lost around nine kilograms of weight and needed seven blood transfusions in the process.

To her relief, the virus had not spread to her lungs and breathing was not an issue, which doctors told her were positive signs.

“I was hopeful and the medical staff was very supportive. Anything is possible if you stay positive,” she said.

The medical staff also gave her regular updates on her condition that helped her remain confident. “Even at times when I was down, doctors would come and tell me that my body was fighting well so there is no need to lose hope,” she said.

On May 10, Amin was discharged after getting tested negative for COVID-19 twice consecutively.

Thanks to UAE authorities and a message for residents

Thanking the UAE authorities for supporting COVID-19 patients and taking care of the chronically ill amidst the pandemic, Amin said: “With the help of the UAE government we will overcome this and to those who feel helpless, you can strike it if you remain hopeful.”

Currently, Amin is quarantined for 14 days as the doctors asked her to do.

She will soon have to get a blood transfusion. “I request UAE residents to donate blood even during the pandemic as thalassemia patients need it to survive,” she said.

Recently, the Department of Health-Abu Dhabi (DOH) posted online and encouraged people to donate blood in order to “save lives” and ensure blood banks have sufficient supplies.