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Finnish patient to end five-year turmoil.

Dubai: A 61-year old Finnish woman who has been in a semi-vegetative state in a Dubai public hospital for nearly five years is finally leaving for Finland on Monday, two months after Gulf News reported her plight.

Anna Leena Mirjami Agnew was visiting Dubai in January 2004 when she had a stroke and was taken to Dubai Hospital, under the Department of Health and Medical Services (Dohms). Her British husband, David Agnew, left promising to arrange for her repatriation, but fell ill himself.

The Finnish government at that time did not take responsibility for Anna's case as she was a permanent overseas citizen. Anna's apparent abandonment in Dubai sparked outrage in the UAE and Finland.

Jansi Rajarathnam, ward nurse in charge of the medical unit that has been taking care of Anna for almost five years, told Gulf News that Anna was scheduled to leave early Monday morning.

"She will be leaving at midnight in an ambulance that will take her to the airport. She can travel.

"She just needs a portable suction machine and feeding tube," she said. "We will miss her because we have taken care of her for so long, but we're happy that at least she will be going back to her own country," she added.

She said Anna's condition has improved since Gulf News first reported her case. She credited the influx of visitors, who came by after reading the report.

"There have been so many changes. We used to talk to her when we took care of her, but now, when (the visitors) talk to her, I can see she is responding more," she said.

The Finnish community in the UAE along with several Finnish companies took care of Anna's airfare, which cost more than Dh25,000. The Finnish government is providing a medical escort for Anna, added Jansi.

The issue of her hospital bills, which cost more than Dh146,000, has still not been resolved. However, Dr Abdul Razzaq Al Madani, director of Dubai Hospital, told Gulf News Anna's medical bills would not derail her departure. "Her departure will not be prevented because her bill has not been paid," he said.

He added he would discuss Anna's case with the Director-General of Dohms, who handles the financial matter, and see whether they can waive the bills or provide a discount.

"Anna is not in a state to pay so we may follow it up with the Finnish Embassy," he said.

'Very thankful'

The Finnish community and Anna's relatives were thrilled Anna was going home.

Matti Mikkola, who spearheaded the move to help repatriate Anna, was happy his and his compatriots' efforts have paid off.

"After all the frustrations, we're very, very thankful to the hospital staff and Dubai government for caring for her for almost five years," he said. "We also thank God for allowing us to be tools in getting things done."

David Agnew, Anna's invalid husband, was thrilled upon learning his wife was going home.

"I'm pleased that something has been settled and I'm grateful to Dubai Hospital for taking excellent care of her all these years," he said.

He added he would try to visit Anna in Kuopio Hospital, in Finland, which will be caring for her.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Oct 3, 2008
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