Filipina Comatose for 4 Months in UAE, Awaits Repatriation

A Filipina who came to Dubai to visit her son on tourist visa has been lying in a vegetative state at a Dubai hospital for the last four months, awaiting repatriation back in the Philippines amid mounting medical bills.

Unfortunately, no one seems to meet Alicia LDR at the Aster Mankhool Hospital — not even her son — the 53-year-old Filipina suffered hypoxia, or lack of oxygen to the brain, during a massive heart attack. She has fallen comatose at the hospital for the past four months with no one coming forward to help her return back to the Philippines and be reunited with her family.

It is a precarious situation for such patients who are either on visit or expired visas and encounter severe medical conditions in hospitals in the United Arab Emirates and feel helpless and unable to go home.

On June 7, Alicia was brought to the hospital by a cab driver. As she was feeling uneasy, Alicia hailed a cab. However, she collapsed with a massive cardiac arrest and her brain deprived of oxygen. While the cabbie’s action helped resuscitate Alicia, the lack of blood supply and oxygen to her brain caused extensive damage to both lobes, rendering her into a comatose.

“The patient had a history of diabetes and hypertension and we made sure her air passage is clear and have a tracheotomy tube in her throat to clean the air passage. She is breathing on her own,” said Dr Alai Taggu, head of the department of critical care at the hospital.

Over the past four months, the hospital spent AED500,000 (P7.012 million) for her care as she had no insurance coverage. Her son is unable to afford hospital expense and has also stopped taking any calls from the hospital staff.

The hospital is facing a typical situation where it wants to free the bed for other needy patients and also make sure the patient is reunited with her family back home which to some extent will emotionally rehabilitate her. They are looking to repatriate her to the Philippines but the Philippine Consulate allegedly had not yet responded positively to their request.

“We have done what we could, and see that the patient might be better off if flown home and is with her loved ones. She needs to be in a similar hospital or health-care facility. So far, the authorities at the Consulate have not been able to find a similar hospital to work out her repatriation. There is nothing more we can do for Alicia now. It is very sad,” said Dr Sherbaz Bichu, the hospital’s CEO.

However, Philippine Consul-General Paul Raymund Cortes told Gulf News that the Consulate “has been in charge of Ms Alicia’s case from day one”.

“We have been coordinating with hospital authorities and administration in regard to her condition and to her hospitalisation bills. Secondly, the Philippine government through the Consulate-General in Dubai is taking charge of her medical repatriation and she is scheduled to leave for the Philippines on the 26th of October. Lastly, it is the Philippine government through the Philippine Consul-General in Dubai that has financially assisted Ms Alicia in taking care of her repatriation and her hospital expenses as well. We’ve also visited Ms Alicia from the very beginning and we have never failed on that matter,” Cortes said.

As Alicia continues to stay at the Dubai hospital, there seems to be a huge gap wherein many such comatose patients with mounting bills lie in hospital beds as their families and government representatives look the other way. The UAE government is reportedly in the process of creating a special public fund for such patients. But until this happens, hospitals are compelled to bear the cost of caring for these patients.