Miracle baby Mia, whose Filipina mother died of Covid-19 shortly after giving birth, has returned home to Sharjah after well-wishers raised Dh144,500 to pay her medical bills.
The baby was born prematurely and endured a difficult few weeks in intensive care at Zulekha Hospital after her mother, Florissa, suffered acute respiratory distress syndrome resulting from coronavirus.
Thanks to 24-hour supervision in a critical care unit and two months in hospital, Mia was allowed home this week to be with her proud father, Jeremy.
He said it was a bittersweet time for the family.
“There has been loneliness and heartache after my wife died, but I knew I had to be strong for my Mia,” said Jeremy, who withheld his family’s name.
“I am getting my strength and focus from my baby. This helps me to keep fighting to think for her welfare and future.”
Raising money without agreement with a registered government charity is against the law in UAE.
But donors can pay money directly to hospitals to help with medical bills – which many people generously do.
Florissa, 43, was seven months pregnant when she contracted Covid-19.
When her condition worsened, she was admitted by ambulance to hospital.
As doctors realised they were unable to save her, they performed an emergency Caesarean section to deliver her baby.
Mia arrived two months early and weighed just 1.4 kilograms, not much more than a bag of sugar.
After more than eight weeks in hospital, the little fighter is now a healthy 3.7kg and has grown to 51 centimetres in height.
Doctors said she is recovering well and although she has shown mild symptoms of colic, they expect her to be well enough to fly home to the Philippines within six to eight months.
Because Florissa’s medical insurance expired on March 31 and was limited to Dh150,000 of fees, it did not cover the costs of her care or those of her daughter.
However, a community appeal raised enough donations to cover the total cost of the family’s medical bill.
“I really didn't expect that the support and donations would pour in like that,” said Jeremy, who works for a financial advisor in Dubai.
“It relieved my stress and anxiety when I saw that help was on the way.
“My daughter and I are really grateful and thankful for all of this love and support that we received from so many good-hearted people.”
After billing details were published online, donors came forward to contribute to the medical fees incurred at Zulekha Hospital for the care of Florissa and Mia.
Between April 15 and 25, the hospital received Dh144,503 in donations - Dh37,503 more than required.
The excess will cover Mia’s ongoing care and hospital appointments. She is expected to be in the UAE for the rest of this year.
“It has been a mix of emotions to finally leave hospital,” Jeremy said.
“I felt very happy that Mia was able to go home, but also sad.
“I wish that my wife was here too so I could have seen the expression on her face that our dream of having our own family had just started.”
The Stop and Help community Facebook group, which helped more than 100,000 people during the coronavirus pandemic, encouraged hospital donations.
Its founder, Heather Harries, said Jeremy and Mia’s plight struck a chord with the community.
“Jeremy is a wonderful gentleman and his cause was a worthy one to support,” the Briton said.
“It was heartwarming to see so many people come forward to ensure baby Mia’s future was secure and that her life started without any worry about finance.”