In the fourth floor of Dubai Hospital, a man with a boyish face smiles at you as you step into his room.
The smile is the only way he communicates with others as he can not speak or even move his limbs. Issa was admitted to hospital when he was two months old. He is still there at the age of 24. No one visits him as he is of “unknown parentage,” as nurses put it.
When the reporter and photographer of a local Arabic language daily went to see Issa, the nurses were surprised.
“They told us that it was the first time that someone came to visit Issa…the nurses were worried that we will take him away,” Al Khaleej said.
“They asked us not to take him away because they do not want to be deprived of his smile, which is the only way he communicates or thanks others.”
Issa was brought to hospital in April 1988 with cerebral palsy (brain paralysis), delayed mental and physical growth, and many other maladies and defects. Doctors had to feed him through a nasal pipe as he had refused milk.
“When I came to this hospital in 1991, Issa was around three years old…I supervised his treatment as he was also suffering from respiration problems, chest and skin allergy, and speaking difficulty…he is still asthmatic and is suffering from stiffness in his four limbs,” Dr Hassan Munda said.
“We had kept him under physiotherapy until he was 10 years old before specialists recommended that this treatment is stopped to avert fractures in his bones as they were very fragile…his four limbs are stiff till now.”
Since he was admitted, Issa has not had any visitors except Al Khaleej reporters this week, according to the Sharjah-based paper.“No one knows this boy-man….he is of unknown origin and parentage…he has no one in this world except for God’s care…it was the human and ethical duty of Dubai Health Authority to take care of him all these years,” it said.
“When Issa was moved from the paediatrics ward to the internal medicine section, doctors later advised that he is moved back to the pediatrics ward because of his delayed body and brain growth…doctors believe this man needs more a child than an adult care….”
The paper quoted Dr Hassan as saying Issa’s immunity is too weak and that any serious inflammation could kill him.“Hence we keep him in an isolated room so he will not get infection from others…he has never been out of bed yet his body has not suffered from any ulceration thanks to the full care provided by doctors and nurses.”
The paper quoted the hospital’s social expert as saying there had been contacts with a well-known centre for people with special needs to take Issa but that the centre has not responded yet. “We are still awaiting response…until then, Issa remains here….since he was brought in, the only expression we have seen from him was his childish smile,” said Laila Al Haddad, head of the social services centre at the hospital.