Friends of a “loved and respected” hospital consultant who is paralysed on a ventilator after contracting coronavirus say they are worried his family will be forced leave the UK while he remains in intensive care.
A fundraising campaign has begun to help get legal assistance for 44-year-old consultant cardiologist Dr Basem Enany, who is in intensive care at Leeds General Infirmary after developing a rare complication of Covid-19.
As of Friday morning, more than £73,000 has been raised.
Dr Enany’s wife and four daughters have been unable to visit him in hospital due to the virus and now face the prospect of having to leave the UK when the Egyptian locum’s contract expires at the end of November.
His friend and colleague at York Hospital, Dr Sanjay Gupta, said Dr Enany was working as a locum at York Hospital before he became ill, but his contract is due to finish at the end of November.
He said his friend’s work visa will not be renewed and, therefore, his wife and four daughters, the youngest of whom is four, will be asked to leave the UK.
But, on Thursday evening, the Home Office said Dr Enany is not under threat of enforcement action and said it would be contacting the family and hospital to help.
Dr Gupta, said Dr Enany regularly spent long shifts on Covid wards looking after very sick patients at the height of the pandemic.
But in mid-September the consultant developed the symptoms himself, although he did not catch the virus at York Hospital as he was on leave.
Dr Gupta, who is also a consultant heart specialist, said his friend developed a weakness in both legs and this turned very rapidly into a progressive paralysis that spread to his arms and then his respiratory muscles.
He said Dr Enany was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, which is a rare complication of some viruses, including Covid-19, only seen in 31 other cases across the world.
Dr Enany was put on a ventilator a fortnight ago and remains unable to move his arms and legs or breathe unassisted, although his brain is still functional and he is able to communicate.
Dr Gupta told the PA news agency: “He came to this country to help and now he is in a terrible situation.
“It’s just horrible what’s happened to him and we all just want to do everything we can to help.”
Dr Gupta said on his GoFundMe page: “Basem’s current status is that he is stable but still critically unwell.
“There is a chance that he may be able to regain the ability to breathe without support and gain function of his limbs but there is also a high chance that he may not make it, or be left with permanent disability.
“What is certain is that he will spend several months in intensive care and will not be able to go back to the profession that he loved so dearly for several months or even years.”
Dr Gupta described Dr Enany, who lives in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, is a “devoted husband and a loving father”.
He has started a fundraising campaign to help secure specialist legal advice for the family’s immigration situation and also support them as they face losing Dr Enany’s income.
Dr Gupta said: “He is the sole breadwinner for his family. Before this sudden illness, Basem was a completely fit and healthy man.
“As part of his job, Basem has looked after and saved the lives of several critically ill cardiac patients and is loved and respected by his colleagues and his patients.”
He said: “As a friend and colleague, I feel both heartbroken and helpless. Whilst I am worried about Basem, I am equally worried about the future for his wife and daughters.”
A Home Office spokeswoman said: “Dr Enany is here entirely legally and has every right to remain the UK. Our thoughts are with his family, and we will be urgently contacting them and his employer so we can help at this difficult time.
“Health and social care professionals from all over the world play a vital role in hospitals and care homes across the UK and we are hugely grateful.”