Mohammed Salim is jobless and broke but he religiously travels from Mussafah to Abu Dhabi City thrice a week to keep himself alive.
In September 2013, he was diagnosed with end-stage renal failure and ever since he has been undergoing dialysis thrice a week. Doctors have advised the 47-year-old to do a transplant but he can’t afford to bring his relatives from India and some are too old to help.
But a new law — expected to come into effect this month — allowing organ transplant of both the living and the deceased in the UAE, is giving fresh hope to people like Salim.
“This is good news. The law will definitely prove to be a boon for many patients like me who are surviving on dialysis,” said Salim who worked as an AC technician.
The existing UAE law necessitates that donor be a relative.
Salim said he got a big family back in India — six brothers and five sisters. A brother and sister had offered to be a donor but they didn’t pass the medical test.
“My parents and a brother are dead. My three sisters and brothers are too old, and others didn’t agree.”
Salim was working for a government entity when he was diagnosed with kidney failure, and doctors prescribed dialysis.
He said he started his hunt for a cheap and best transplant facility in India during his annual leave.
“I went to several hospitals but a transplant would cost anything between Rs16 and Rs20 lakhs, (approximately Dh11,000) and I could not afford it,” said Salim.
He started dialysis at Mafraq Dialysis Centre Abu Dhabi. “I also checked my case at Lifeline Hospital and Shaikh Khalifa Medical City, where they asked me to find a relative and offered free transplant. But how can I bring someone here when I am dependent on others,” asked the worker.
The AC technician with more than 17 years experience in the UAE said the Dh120,000 he received as end of service benefits went into repaying his loans.
His treatment is covered by an insurance company.
“I can’t find a job. No one wants to employ a person going three times a week for dialysis. So I want to do my transplant and work as a normal man,” said Salim, who has a wife and daughter.
He said if his visa was not renewed by next month, he would have to return to India.
“Each dialysis of Dh1,500 is paid by insurance firm here but back in India who will foot the bill?,” he asked.