Elderly Portuguese tourist has life-saving cancer surgery in Dubai

Maria Madalena's husband had an emergency cardiac operation at the same hospital while the couple were visiting the emirate three years ago

Portuguese tourist Maria Madalena, 80, was grateful for the support of medical staff in Dubai after being diagnosed with cancer during her holiday. Courtesy: Dubai Health Authority
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An elderly Portuguese tourist was diagnosed with cancer and underwent life-saving surgery in a Dubai hospital during a recent visit to the UAE.

Maria Madalena, 80, has visited the emirate annually with her husband for the past two decades.

She did not expect to be hospitalised while on vacation but said she had faith in the country’s healthcare facilities.

“I did feel unwell before I travelled to Dubai but I did not want to cancel our holiday,” she said.

“I had no idea that I had a cancerous tumour in my body.”

I have no words left to thank the hospital staff

This is the second major surgery for her family in Dubai’s Rashid Hospital while on holiday in the Emirates. Her husband had an emergency cardiac surgery in the hospital three years ago.

“I told God that I want to be cured in Dubai if there is an issue,” Ms Madalena said.

The day after arriving in Dubai, she went to the hospital for a check-up as she continued to feel unwell.

Doctors conducted a CT scan, blood tests and a colonoscopy after she was admitted to the emergency department.

The tests revealed a cancerous tumour in her mid-rectum.

Dr Omar Al Marzouqi, consultant general surgeon at Rashid Hospital, said the case was discussed with a Tumour Board that has been established where malignancies are evaluated by a multidisciplinary team of specialised doctors.

“Keeping the age of the patient in mind and her condition, we decided it was best to avoid open surgery and we opted to remove the tumour laparoscopically instead,” he said.

Portuguese tourist Maria Madalena, 80, is discharged from Dubai's Rashid Hospital after surgery for a cancerous tumour. Courtesy: Dubai Health Authority 
Portuguese tourist Maria Madalena, 80, is discharged from Dubai's Rashid Hospital after surgery for a cancerous tumour. Courtesy: Dubai Health Authority 

Ms Madalena made a speedy recovery and was discharged in three days.

Dr Al Marzouqi said minimally invasive procedures account for shorter hospital stays.

“Smaller incisions means the patient has an opportunity to recover faster, the patient experiences less pain and can return to work or resume day-to-day activities much faster,” he said.

Her husband Rider Lobo said his wife's critical surgery reaffirmed the family’s faith in the country's healthcare facilities.

Mr Lobo recalled the pain and discomfort he experienced when shopping in the Mall of the Emirates in 2017.

“An ambulance arrived and immediately took me to the hospital. Everything was done promptly with a sense of urgency,” the 82-year-old said about his cardiac surgery in Rashid Hospital.

A cardiologist in Lisbon did a follow-up check and told him that the procedure in Dubai was done “brilliantly.”

That experience convinced them against postponing the family holiday this time around when his wife felt unwell before the trip.

“We did not think of cancelling the holiday as we were confident that if she needed medical attention we would receive high-quality treatment in Dubai,” Mr Lobo said.

Rashid Hospital has performed more than 100 laparoscopic procedures for colorectal cancer in the last four years.

“I have no words left to thank the hospital staff,” Ms Madelena said.

“We are very grateful to Dubai because God has chosen Dubai to solve our medical issues. I will visit Dubai again.”