Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

A 45-year-old Filipino man who was stranded in Dubai for almost eight months after he suffered a stroke has finally been able to go back home after hospital staff, social workers and church groups came up with money to cover his medical bills.

Ferdinand Hipolito flew to the Gulf state on July 1 last year to join his wife, who was working as a sales executive in a bookshop. They planned to settle their family in Dubai and he was about to start looking for work, Gulf News reported.

But on August 26 Hipolito became ill on the train that was taking his wife to work.

“He said he was thirsty so I gave him water. But he couldn’t swallow it,” said wife Lisa, 46. “He had become so pale I was worried. I offered to take him to the hospital, but he declined. He said he was just tired, so he’d rest at home.”

Hipolito was later rushed to Rashid Hospital, where doctors found he had suffered a stroke. He was there for almost eight months, running up a medical bill of more than 203,000 dirhams (US55,275). In the meantime, the travel agency that issued his visitors visa filed an absconding case against him and Hipolito faced overstaying fines of Dh12,665 ($3,450).

Charities raise money for trip home

“It was heartbreaking, because the problems we faced seemed never-ending,” said Lisa. “Our dream was for us to be together as a family here. That’s not going to happen anymore, at least for now.”

Rashid Hospital came to the rescue on humanitarian grounds, and was joined by the Samaritan Ministry of St Mary’s Catholic Church and other church volunteers. Together they managed to clear the hospital bills and raise some money to pay for air tickets so that Hipolito, his wife and a nurse could fly to the Philippines.

The Philippine Consulate-General promised to reimburse the plane tickets.

“We will provide the tickets and also on a compassionate basis, we will help with their 11-year-old daughter’s education. What the consulate reimburses, we will give to Lisa for her personal use,” said Susan Jose, a volunteer social worker at Samaritan Ministry.

Hipolito faces a long recovery in the Philippines, but is on the mend.

“He is doing well now, by God’s grace. He can stand and move with assistance,” Lisa said. “Doctors performed a tracheostomy, so he can’t speak very well, and he is fed through a tube. His disposition also changed. He has a more positive outlook now,” she added.

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