‘I met Death face-to-face … As the white lights entered my room, they encircled me from every angle – behind me, from the front, from below, and from above … I was able to hear 10 times more and see 10 times more than ordinary people’
At 55 years, the Kingdom of Bahrain boasts one of the highest life expectancies for SCD in the world. This did not come by sheer luck or chance – each Bahraini with sickle cell carried a diary in which they recorded their crises episodes, its degree of severity, frequency, suspected triggers, etc. The diary helps healthcare providers determine what sort of care the patient receives – after all, SCD is an individualized, customised health condition.
Generally, standards of living are high in Bahrain. However, SCD is no respecter of living standards.
Zakareya Alkadeim is President, Bahraini Sickle Cell Association, a non-governmental organization which works closely with the kingdom’s Ministry of Health. In a short space of time, as a result of lingering SCD issues, Zakareya went from a plump 112kg to a slender 72kg.
In September 2018, Zakareya had stroke of the lungs (pulmonary stroke), which left him at the point of death in hospital. 30 specialist doctors and nurses gathered around him. There was nothing else they could do. A short distance away, a lowly ward cleaner began to pray for him.
Each time, fascinated, and utterly eager to enter, he would jump forward – and find himself back on hospital bed!
‘I fuzzily remember a doctor asking me to give them my father’s or brother’s number to call,’
Even in his haze of unconsciousness, Zakareya knew it wouldn’t do to summon his father for a final goodbye.
‘I asked them to call my brother,’ he recalls. ‘It will just not do for my father to see me die.’
‘God Sent Me Back 11 Times’
By his own reckoning, Sickle Cell Warrior Zakareya has had near-death episodes on 11 occasions, the last being in September 2018. Each time he would see the Pearly Gates and the proverbial royal palaces open before him, beckoning him in. Each time, fascinated, and utterly eager to enter, he would jump forward – and find himself back on hospital bed!
‘I knew it was the hand of God pushing me back to complete my mission on earth.’
The White Lights
Zakareya delves more into the Near-Death Experience during the unforgettable crises in 2018:
‘I met Death face-to-face … As the white lights entered my room, they encircled me from every angle – behind me, from the front, from below, and from above … I was able to hear 10 times more and see 10 times more than ordinary people. I instinctively knew these were my last moments on earth…’
Doctors had once told Zakareya he would not live to see his 42nd birthday. At 47, he is clearly on extra time!
‘I tell my family I would live to a healthy 75, if not more,’ says Zakareya.
With an invisible hand shoving him time and again back to his earthly mission, nothing can be more reassuring.