'Our lives changed completely': UAE couple undergo heart surgeries 2 days apart

Rather than worrying about each other, they were able to heal together


SM Ayaz Zakir

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Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied

Published: Tue 26 Dec 2023, 1:37 PM

Last updated: Tue 26 Dec 2023, 9:56 PM

They say couples' hearts beat as one — and this could just be the case for UAE residents Naveed Ahmed Sheikh and Zarqa Sheikh, who both underwent major heart surgeries two days apart.

They didn't know they both have heart problems. Naveed, 62, experienced tightness in his chest each time he stepped out for a long walk, and his wife Zarqa, 51, had asthma and struggled with spells of dizziness and shortness of breath.

“I was shocked when I learned I had to undergo an aortic valve replacement," said Naveed, whose echocardiogram results revealed he had severe aortic stenosis. This is a condition where the aortic valve had narrowed and blood couldn't flow normally.

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Worried about his wife's health, too, he encouraged her to undergo the same test.

"In a few moments, our lives changed completely," he said.

"Zarqa was diagnosed with a mitral valve condition, which also required a valve replacement,” said Naveed.

Challenging road ahead

Cardiologists at Burjeel Hospital in Abu Dhabi recommended that they both undergo heart surgery as soon as possible.With their procedures scheduled just two days apart, the couple prepared for the challenging road ahead.

“We first conducted the aortic valve replacement in the husband to replace the main valve between the heart and the body," said Dr Tarig Elhassan, head of department and cardiac surgery specialist at Burjeel Hospital.

"Two days later, we performed the mitral valve replacement for the wife. The procedures went well, and they were discharged after a week."

As they recover side by side, Naveed and Zarqa have found comfort in each other’s presence. “Our shared experience of diagnosis, surgery, and recovery has strengthened our bond,” said Zarqa.

“By the time I was out of surgery, she had gone in. Rather than worrying about each other, we were able to heal together,” said Naveed.


Now, they have a list of instructions to follow. Their children are also with them, offering emotional support and ready to help with everything they need.

"After a few more weeks of follow-up, hopefully, we will be able to return home,” Naveed added.

Burjeel's medical team offers a word of caution for those experiencing cardiac-related symptoms. “Cardiac conditions are not as complicated to treat when diagnosed on time and referred to proper centres for treatment. If anyone is experiencing any symptoms or doubts, it is always better to consult a cardiologist as early as possible because cardiac problems can suddenly be too late."

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