UAE: Covid frontliner who converted car into ambulance for sick workers up for global award

Jasmine Mohammed Sharaf visited their homes, provided them with food, and even drove them to the ER when needed


Dhanusha Gokulan

Published: Wed 4 May 2022, 12:07 AM

Last updated: Wed 4 May 2022, 9:11 AM

Jasmine Mohammed Sharaf is a nurse, yet amid the pandemic, she was a constant presence at labour accommodations — sometimes even driving sick workers to the hospital.

The 43-year-old nurse, who works with the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), has won multiple accolades for going above and beyond the call of duty to assist workers when Covid-19 broke out.

It all started when she realised that low-income workers were not completely aware of the virus and could not find access to the proper forms of treatment.

“Misinformation among these communities was rife during that time. I realised they were scared and unaware of what Covid was and how to treat it. I decided to step in and help them,” said Jasmine, who has been living in the UAE for 19 years now.

From March to May 2020, she visited the homes of several Covid-19 patients and drove them to hospitals in case of emergencies — despite all the risks involved.

With the help of several associations, she would also provide them with food and other supplies because they could not afford them.

Today, for all her efforts, Jasmine is the only UAE-based contender for the Aster Guardian Global Nursing Award.

Why she wanted to be a nurse

For Jasmine, a career in nursing was the most natural choice since she spent her entire childhood suffering from a rare, undiagnosed disease.

“I had something called portal hypertension with oesophagal varices. This causes enlarged veins in the oesophagus, causing bulges that would rupture. It would often result in bleeding from my nose and mouth,” she said.

“Growing up, I spent a lot of time in the hospital as my haemoglobin was very low, and I always needed a catheter and a tube. Finally, after several misdiagnoses and taking the wrong medication for years, I got the correct diagnosis at 15,” Jasmine explained.

After undergoing an endoscopy at the Thiruvananthapuram Medical College, doctors ascertained Jasmine’s correct ailment.

“I had no hope, and I didn’t think I would live a normal life. I thought I would never get married, never have kids, never have anything… that diagnosis changed my life,” she said.

Back then, Jasmine spent a lot of time around nurses. “I saw their work and their commitment towards patients. That is when I decided to become one myself. Also, I know the pain of a patient.”

She graduated from Malik Deenar College of Nursing in Kasargode, Kerala, in 2000.

“I worked in India for a year, and after I came to the UAE, I worked in the private sector. I joined DHA in 2010 and have been working with them ever since,” she said.

Being a Covid-19 frontliner

Jasmine said she has thoroughly enjoyed her career in the UAE. “I feel safe working as a nurse here in Dubai. We are so well respected, and the provision of services and the medical infrastructure here is one of the best globally,” she added.

However, becoming a Covid-19 frontliner was a life-changing experience. “As frontline Covid-19 warriors, we faced disease on a day-to-day basis,” she said.

Jasmine is an employee of the DHA Khawaneej Health Centre and she still works in a Covid-19 ward.

“In the initial stages, the patients were terrified. They feared the disease because they did not understand it. My heart went out to them especially when they expressed conditions like breathlessness to me,” she said.

With the support of her family, Jasmine was able to go above and beyond to assist patients in Deira’s Naif District and other areas. She would speak to patients over the phone and explain matters to them.

She began providing them with food and would spend a lot of money on fuel, supplies and other expenses, leaving her own family in financial distress.

Over time, more people learnt about the assistance Jasmine was providing and her mobile number went viral. “I received over 48,335 calls from patients as it spread through word of mouth,” she said.

After her working hours, 7.30am to 2.30pm or the night shift from 2.30 to 9.30pm, Jasmine would meet patients in her car and take them to hospitals in case of emergencies.

“One of the main issues is that I am a patient of epilepsy and diabetes. I had to be extra careful. However, I got Covid twice, and both times I got them from outside my clinic,” she said.

“My husband and kids have been very supportive throughout this journey.” Her older daughter is a medical student in Europe, and the younger one is eight years old.

While Jasmine hopes to win the Aster Guardian Global Nursing Award, she is happy to have been recognised for her efforts.

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