March 2016

“Come here Nasip! Reina is in a very bad state!”

When Nasip and Edona Emra of Reinach (canton of Basel-Landschaft) travelled home to Kosovo with their baby for the first time, they did not yet know that their holiday would end in a nightmare. After an odyssey through the emergency departments and inpatient departments of two different hospitals, relief finally came. The father, Nasip, talks about the period of worry and hope.

Emra Familie gross
Nasip Emra from Reinach (BL) with his now healthy daughter Reina

“When Reina was born last May, our relatives at home were really curious to meet her, especially her two grandmothers. However, we did not want to travel with the baby during the hot summertime, so we decided to wait until September. We travelled to Prizren, the place where my wife's family is from. Everything went smoothly at first. However, after two weeks, our baby suddenly developed a fever of 39 degrees, started wailing the whole time and threw up. It really stressed me out, perhaps also because Reina is our first child. We immediately took her to the regional children’s hospital. After the doctors had examined her, they gave her an infusion and said she would have to stay there for two or three days. My wife, her mother and I stayed the night in hospital as we wanted to be with her. I sometimes observed our baby and noticed how she kept on closing her eyes firmly. I realised she was not well. This hurt me. I looked at the beautiful child and became frightened. ‘What if we lose her?’ I thought. I could not get this horrible thought out of my mind.

Our baby started smiling for the first time three days later. I was delighted: ‘Finally things are looking up!’ The doctors told us that the infusion was working well. I went home to finally be able to sleep in and have a shower, but suddenly the phone rang. It was my wife. ‘Nasip,’ she shouted extremely upset, ‘come immediately – Reina is in a very bad condition!’ I thought I was having a bad dream. “That had better not be true,’ I thought, ‘before she was doing so well; what on earth has happened?’ I was in despair. An anaesthetist at the hospital told us that they would have to transfer her to the University Clinic in Pristina, the capital city, because there was better infrastructure and medication there. The fever got worse, and our baby had to throw up again.

After two or three days in Pristina, the doctors first raised the suspicion that it could be meningitis, a disease which is very dangerous for children. I knew this to be the case, because my cousin’s child had once contracted it and has been blind ever since. I panicked and called Helsana’s emergency number. The woman on the phone was very nice and good to me. She asked after our child and gave me hope. She said: ‘Mr Emra, everything is fine. We will take care of you. We will organise repatriation to Switzerland. We will contact you again tomorrow.’ I thought: ‘A new world! A new life! How lucky for our child!’ And: ‘Why, oh why, did I not phone Helsana beforehand – already in Prizren?!’

I never would have thought that we would get help so quickly. The only thing I kept thinking was: ‘This good child, our beautiful child – that is the end of her.’ The following day, the lovely woman from Helsana called me again. She said: ‘We will be in Pristina at twelve noon tomorrow (Saturday). We will come to pick you up from hospital at 1.30 p.m.’ And that is exactly what happened. Everything worked out. Truly everything. To the exact second – like a Swiss watch.

When the Swiss doctor and junior doctor entered the hospital room, they shouted in amazement: ‘Who are all these people?’ – ‘They are my brothers and sisters,’ I answered, ‘and my mother, my mother-in-law, my uncles and aunts.’ Yes, they had all come. That is normal in our country: if a child or young person is ill, the whole family visits them. We all share in their suffering. Although we cannot help, we want to be by their side. Soon afterwards, we drove to the airport in the ambulance where the air ambulance jet was waiting for us. ‘Your child is still young, so you are allowed to travel with her in the jet,’ they said. Back in Switzerland, Reina was taken directly to the University Hospital of Basel, where her condition quickly improved.

One week later, it was a Friday, we were allowed to take her home again. Or was it a Saturday? I cannot remember as I was so stressed.

Reina is now healthy again. Thank God! I am so happy.”

Recorded by Daniela Diener