After undergoing the trauma of open-heart surgery and months of intense rehabilitation, an Emirati resident is now looking to the future.

Back in early 2015, at a time that should have been filled with joy, newly married Dubai resident Habib Mohammed Omer found himself hit by several heart attacks and dramatically admitted to Dubai Hospital for open-heart surgery. And although this mammoth procedure would put anyone under pressure, it was even tougher for a feisty 71-year-old not given to complaining about his health, despite suffering from high blood pressure and associated issues for years. Once admitted, the scariest moment was still to come for Omer and his family when, during the operation, he suffered cardiac arrest and had to undergo an emergency tracheotomy — an incision in the windpipe to relieve an obstruction to breathing. He was then placed on a ventilator, with the hospital physicians predicting he would have to remain on one for the rest of his life.

Three months later, Omer was transferred to Amana Healthcare in Al Ain due to it being an expert long-term care facility for managing people on ventilation — and there he would begin a seven-month long journey to recovery. Amana Healthcare has particular expertise in this area, with intensive care specialists on duty 24×7 to manage the complicated process of teaching patients to breathe independently again. Omer says he recalls little of his first few weeks in Al Ain, tended to by his devoted new wife and extended family. As he gradually became more aware of his surroundings, the Amana team began a programme to try and wean him off the ventilator despite his overall prognosis not being great. “I was in a very weak position,” says Omer. “I was so sick that I couldn’t even move myself and the nurses had to do it. I was like this in bed for months.” As things slowly improved and he began to rely less and less on the ventilator, his Al Ain care team decided to move Omer to the Amana hospital in Abu Dhabi, which is well known in the UAE for specialized post-acute services for patients who need intensive rehabilitation after medical issues that include brain injuries, and orthopedic procedures such as a joint replacement, major fracture, or amputation. The hospital’s main objective is to return patients to their home or work, with a focus on participation in life roles and optimizing quality of life. Here he underwent a seven-day-a-week programme involving physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, and working with a dietician. Incredibly, exactly one year on from suffering the heart attacks that led to open heart surgery and near paralysis afterwards, Omer took his first steps in a hydrotherapy pool. “The people at Al Ain and Abu Dhabi really took care of me and I have to thank everyone in my therapy team for literally getting me back on my feet. “Actually, I never felt I was a patient with my therapists, I always felt I was a member of their family. And from being in Abu Dhabi you could say my new life has started” So, after much hard work, as a reward on his birthday Omer was allowed to go home, much to the relief of his entire family.

Amana Healthcare emphasizes that families are integrally involved in the recovery and rehabilitation process of loved ones, and provides support to patients and families every step of the way — including the transition home — and offers ongoing outpatient or home-based care as needed. Now Omer says he is committed to getting what he calls the “remaining five percent” of his health back. Besides, it’s time to get on with married life…

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