- The Coetzee family is jumping for joy after the head of their household arrived back in South Africa after contracting Covid-19 in the Maldives.
- He was in hospital for 65 days.
- The hospital would not discharge him until he coughed up the R200 000 for his medical bill.
A Mitchells Plain family is rejoicing following the return of a loved one to Cape Town after he had contracted Covid-19 in the Maldives.
Avril Coetzee told News24 that fetching her husband, Andrew, from the airport on Sunday afternoon felt like witnessing a "real-life miracle".
"I haven't seen my husband in more than three months. My kids missed their dad. It was a real ball of emotions as we watched him get off the plane and make his way towards us at the airport," said Avril.
According to Avril, hospital staff had told her they were doing everything possible to help her husband, but there were no guarantees that he would make it out alive as his condition was "very bad".
"He was not able to get the vaccination before he left the country as his age group was not eligible for the jab yet, but would be getting the jab once he is assessed by a doctor soon," she said.
Andrew landed in the Maldives on 24 July for a two-week stopover to quarantine, ahead of a move to Saudi Arabia to start his new job as a diving technician.
According to Avril, Andrew was due to stay in Saudi Arabia for about two months for his new job. Andrew developed Covid-19 pneumonia while in the Maldives, spent three weeks in a hospital bed and two more weeks in an induced coma.
He had also suffered a stroke while in the coma, leading to paralysis in his right hand, and he had to undergo rehabilitation.
Andrew said the hospital in Malé would not let him leave until he coughed up the nearly R200 000 for his medical bills.
Avril said: "We managed to pay R15 000 on 1 October towards the bills, and negotiated with the hospital to pay off the rest of the money going forward."
According to the family, the hospital's recent communication indicated that they had about two years to pay off the rest of the bill.
On Tuesday evening, the family celebrated April's birthday.
"We had [invited] no one over. We celebrated together as a family. It was the best birthday present I could've asked for. To have my husband back home just in time to celebrate my special day is a blessing in disguise," she said.
Andrew said he had not fully recovered yet, but had managed to fetch his youngest child from school on Tuesday.
"My youngest kid was on cloud nine when I pulled up at the school. As kids are, they showed off to their friends to show them that their dad came to fetch them. It was a wonderful moment," he said.
According to Andrew, one of the life lessons he learnt from his ordeal in the Maldives was not taking anything for granted.
"Cherish every moment with your family. Take your vaccinations. Life is short. I was... at death's door, and through some miracle, I made it out alive, and I will forever be grateful to God and my family and friends for helping me pull through," said Andrew.
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