An Egyptian NHS doctor who became critically ill after complications from contracting Covid-19, has spoken for the first time about his fears of being removed from the UK by the Home Office while he lay in his hospital bed on a ventilator.
Dr Basem Enany, a locum consultant cardiologist at York teaching hospital, had treated many coronavirus patients. He was placed on a ventilator after developing Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare complication of Covid-19 and other viruses, which has left him partially paralysed. He can now breathe unaided but believes he has a long rehabilitation journey ahead of him.
“At first I had the usual symptoms of Covid – cough, fever, loss of taste and smell – but then I began to develop a weakness throughout my body. Then I was no longer able to move and couldn’t breathe properly.” he said. “I had never seen this happen in any of the Covid patients I had treated and had to research my symptoms as they were so unusual.”
He has a work visa that is due to expire next month. He and his wife, Marwa Mohamed, believe they and their four young daughters could face removal from the UK as he is unlikely to be well enough by December to renew the visa.
While Enany has regained partial use of his hands, his legs remain paralysed and he is waiting to be moved from Leeds general infirmary to a specialist neuro-rehabilitation facility. “I was not sedated on the ventilator and was lying awake in my hospital bed thinking: ‘Oh my God, my visa is about to finish,’” he said.
Enany thanked the dedicated NHS workers who have been looking after him and the more than 4,000 people who have made donations to a crowdfund that will pay for his legal and medical bills. Any remaining funds will be donated to research into Covid-19 and into Guillain-Barré syndrome.
While the Home Office has said it had no plans to deport the family, Enany does not know what kind of replacement visa he will receive, how long it will be for and whether it will allow work.
While Enany thanked the Home Office for its reassurances, he said: “We still don’t have any solid documents in our hands and my visa will expire soon.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We’ve spoken to Dr Enany’s family to reassure them that their immigration status is not in jeopardy and they are not facing enforcement action. They are here entirely legally and have every right to remain the UK. We will continue to work with them to find a way forward. Our thoughts remain with Dr Enany and his family at this difficult time.”
On Friday there will be the second reading of a private member’s bill from Liberal Democrat MP Christine Jardine calling for indefinite leave to remain to be granted to migrant NHS workers who have cared for patients during the pandemic. In her presentation of the bill she says that these NHS workers will be vital during the second wave of the pandemic.