It wasn’t the dream wedding the couple had planned but despite the hitch in their plans, the young bride smiled radiantly and the groom looked dapper in his suit.
Ribat, a Bangladeshi national and his Pakistani bride Sana, flew thousands of miles, all the way from Canada to be with Ribat’s ailing father and tied the knot in a simple, yet elegant, nikah ceremony at Aster Hospital, Mankhool on Saturday night. Khaleej Times was given an exclusive invitation to attend the hospital wedding.
Creating history, the couple is probably the first in the UAE to get married in any hospital setting with doctors and nurses as their guests. With an attendance of a handful of close relatives and parents of the bride, the mufti performed the nikah ceremony at the hospital’s conference hall declaring Ribat and Sana man and wife.
The couple had planned a grand wedding on July 16 in Toronto, Canada where over 200 guests were expected when suddenly Shahadat Chowdhury, Ribat’s father, fell severely ill and had to be hospitalised and ventilated.
“This was a shock for us since dad has always been healthy and has never complained,” Ribat said.
Ribat and his sister, who both reside in Toronto, flew to Dubai in emergency on June 13 after doctors explained to them that their father was put on a ventilator after being diagnosed with a condition called Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). Shahadat had been in hospital for nine days already by then.
“My mother was panicking and we immediately decided to come back to Dubai,” said Ribat, 27.
With good care and proper management of the condition, Shahadat was soon out of the intensive care unit where he had spent weeks. However, doctors still did not give him the green signal to fly since he still needed oxygen. The treatment had side effects too and left Shahadat with mild neuropathy or weakness of the lower limbs.
The couple, who had met in university, had been planning the wedding for over a year. “All arrangements had been done, bookings made. Over 200 guests and relatives were due to fly from all over the world to Canada for the wedding but now we were in a fix,” said Ribat.
It was then Sana suggested that they hold the wedding ceremony at the hospital where Ribat’s father was admitted and the reception, as planned, on July 16 in Toronto.
Dazzling in an off white and maroon sari, Sana said the decision came naturally. “We did not want Ribat’s father to miss the wedding so we brought the wedding to him,” she said.
Dr. Sherbaz Bichu, CEO of Aster Hospital, said: “The only place I’ve seen smiles in hospital is the gynaecology ward where babies are born and now we are honoured to host this wedding ceremony,” he said.
Shahadat Chowdhury, 58, came into hospital in the middle of June complaining of fever and difficulty in breathing. He was given the required treatment and sent back home.
He later came back to the hospital with an aggravated breathing problem. “It was already four days since the initial symptoms had come up,” said Dr. Alai Taggu, Specialist Physician and Head of Critical Care Medicine Department at Aster Hospital.
Shahadat was then admitted to ICU and his condition diagnosed as pneumonia. “While in hospital, he complained he couldn’t breath and his condition deteriorated so he had to be put on a mechanical ventilator after a CT scan of the lungs showed a grossly abnormal picture,” said the doctor. “We narrowed down his condition to three possibilities and put him on steroids and antibiotics immediately.”
The patient was then put on a non-invasive mechanical ventilator for 12 hours but there was no improvement in his condition. “He became sicker and was deteriorating rapidly so we had to intubate him,” said Dr. Alai.
Scans showed both lungs were affected and his condition was diagnosed as ARDS. “It is a syndrome and in most cases, the patient doesn’t make it since the lungs fail,” said the doctor. As is the case with such patients, Shahadat started developing multi-organ failure while blood pressure also dropped to a low of 80/50. “This affected his kidneys which also started failing and then the liver,” said Dr. Alai. However, with organ support, the patient was stabilized but the lungs were still not in a good shape.
“We then decided to use a technique whereby the patient is turned on his face so that the alveoli opens up and luckily the patient responded to this treatment,” said the doctor.
Shahadat was put on his face for three to four hours every day for 11 days until he reached a stage where his tube was removed though he still needed a breathing mask. By day 16, all organs were back to near normal function though Shahadat had developed mild neuropathy. “He will now need constant physiotherapy and will need oxygen all his life,” said Dr. Alai.
Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a medical condition characterised by widespread inflammation in the lungs. ARDS is not a particular disease; rather, it is a clinical condition triggered by various pathologies such as trauma, pneumonia, and sepsis.
ARDS occurs when fluid builds up in the tiny, elastic air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. The fluid keeps the lungs from filling with enough air, which means less oxygen reaches the bloodstream. This deprives the organs of the oxygen they need to function.
Specialist Physician and HOD of Critical Care Medicine
Aster Hospital, Mankhool