Baby Khadeejah knows nothing of this world but the walls of a neonatal intensive care unit at a hospital in Dubai, where she was born a little over six weeks ago.
Her mother, Saira Mahetab, 34, was seven months pregnant with her when she visited a doctor for a routine ultrasound.
The results of the exam showed Khadeejah’s life was in danger and doctors said she needed to be delivered immediately.
Khadeejah was born weighing just 800g and was rushed to the Nicu (neonatal intensive care unit).
“I thought that my baby daughter was going to spend some time in Nicu for her lungs to develop,” said Ms Mahetab.
But a few days after the birth, doctors told the 35-year-old mother-of-three that her daughter had swelling in her intestine.
They also told her she had to move her newborn to another hospital because they did not have the expertise to care for the baby.
The experience was all too familiar for the Pakistani parents whose older daughter had to spend a month in a Nicu when she was born.
Last month the couple went door-to-door searching for a doctor who could help Khadeejah.
“We approached almost every hospital in Dubai. Almost all of the either said that they did not had a paediatric surgeon or that they did not have any available beds,” Ms Mahetab said.
Eventually, a government hospital agreed to take Khadeejah but only under certain conditions.
“They told us that caring for Khadeejah would cost a lot of money and that we had to deposit money and give them a guarantee.”
The hospital estimated Khadeejah’s care to cost Dh386,000.
“This is just for all the tests and the Nicu,” Ms Mahetab said.
Her husband paid the hospital where his wife gave birth Dh50,000 and gave them a blank cheque as insurance.
The family are hopeful that costs will subside but were told their daughter may require surgery in the future and she is still not well enough to be brought home. “I just want to hold her in my arms and take her home,” her mother said.
Khadeejah now weighs 1.7kg but doctors are waiting for her to gain another 300g and for the family pay the outstanding fees before she can be discharged. Their insurance agreed to cover eighty per cent of the cost but they still owe the hospital Dh65,000
“I can’t afford it. I had already take out a loan for the initial Dh50,000. They didn’t allow me to admit my daughter without paying Dh30,000 and are now calling me several times a day for the remaining Dh65,000,” said Mr Mahetab, 37.
The family have lived in Dubai for around three years and while Mr Mahetab has a job, they also support their extended family in Pakistan.
Hisham Al Zahrani, manager of Zakat and Social Services at Dar Al Ber, said the family needs help to settle their outstanding hospital bills of Dh65,000.
“The cost of a day in nicu is extremely high and with limited insurance coverage, it is almost impossible for anyone to settle regardless of their income,” he said.
“Without help, Mr Mahetab’s family will not be able to pay the cost and according to regulations at many hospitals, a birth certificate will not be issued till the amount is settled.”