A bus driver who contracted a deadly infection while on a pilgrimage to Mecca died yesterday, a day before his family was due to fly him home from a Jordan hospital.
Mr Abdul Ghafur Mohd Ibrahim, a Singapore permanent resident from Malaysia, was 59. He had had his left leg amputated last month when bacterial infection set in in the wound he had suffered from a fall a month ago.
His death was said to be due to cardiac arrest, his son-in-law Mohamad Ameen Said Abdul Kadir told The Straits Times. Said Mr Ameen, 37, an operations manager: "We were all looking forward to his return. But God has other plans for my father-in-law. We have decided to bury him in Amman."
Mr Abdul Ghafur and his wife had left with a group on Dec 11 for the minor pilgrimage, known as an "umrah", to Saudi Arabia. While there, he fell after he was pushed, and someone stepped on his left ankle. Two weeks later, while in Amman, Jordan, blisters began to form on his foot and he had to be hospitalised.
Despite being given antibiotics, the infection spread to his groin, and his left leg was amputated above the knee to stem it.
His family was faced with a medical bill of nearly $150,000 which it could not afford.
The insurance coverage of $20,000 for hospitalisation and $50,000 for repatriation that Mr Abdul Ghafur had bought before going on the umrah was insufficient to cover his escalating medical fees.
But the public stepped in after learning of his plight on Facebook and in the media. Last Friday, Mr Ameen said his family had collected around $38,000 in donations. "We are obliged to inform the public (of my father-in-law's death) as my family is indebted to them," he said.
Mr Ayoob Angullia of ST&T International, the only company authorised to sell insurance to pilgrims going to Saudi Arabia, told ST he was informed of the death by staff of the Malaysian consulate in Amman.
As a result of Mr Abdul Ghafur's situation, the insurance coverage for all pilgrims going on their umrah may soon be revised. The changes may see an increase in medical coverage and unlimited repatriation coverage but pilgrims will be expected to pay higher premiums.
ST&T International was coordinating the medical evacuation for Mr Abdul Ghafur.
A doctor and a nurse would have accompanied him on the flight home. Mr Abdul Ghafur's medical bills had also been negotiated to a lower amount equivalent to $81,000, which has been settled.