‘As a doctor I knew that my father’s days were numbered, but as a daughter, I wanted to believe in miracles’
Dr Nazia Ahmed Ritu and her father Alhaz Abul Fazal were admitted to the same hospital after they had tested positive for Covid-19, though at different times.
While Nazia made it out alive, her father succumbed to the infectious disease.
She helped countless people fight off Covid-19, but when it came to her loved one, she could not do anything. She had never felt so helpless in her entire life.
“Coincidentally, both of us occupied bed no. 7 of Square Hospital. I was in the women's Covid unit while he was in the ICU for men,” Nazia told Dhaka Tribune.
Since March 2020, when the global health crisis hit Bangladesh, doctors and other healthcare workers have been working tirelessly to tackle the pandemic and save people from the disease.
There are many healthcare professionals like Nazia, a doctor at the Covid-19 unit of Square Hospital in Dhaka, who have contracted the virus while providing medical care and losing their loved ones to the deadly disease.
“I held my father’s hand and told him that I was a doctor and I would not let anything happen to him. But deep down, I had a feeling that my father might not return home,” Nazia recalled.
Nazia’s father Abul Fazal, who needed regular dialysis and used to travel to Dhaka from Narayanganj for that purpose, was in a high-risk group for Covid-19.
He tested positive for the disease in October 2020.
“He was in good shape, but when he came for dialysis at Square Hospital, his health worsened and he needed hospitalization,” Nazia said.
She felt a sense of relief after a couple of days as her father’s health condition had started improving gradually.
“My father used to ask me to take him home. I cannot describe how helpless I felt at that moment,” she told this correspondent.
Her father later suffered a heart attack and his health started deteriorating again. Afterwards, he was shifted to the ICU and needed ventilation.
Describing the harrowing moment, Nazia said she had broken down and pleaded with her father: “Baba, you fought for the country, you fought for your family … Please fight a little more and come back to us.”
“I knew that his days were numbered. As a doctor, I knew that my father might not survive, but as a daughter, I wanted to believe in miracles,” she said.
Nazia eventually let go of her father’s hand as her colleagues put him on ventilation and came to the painful realization that it was the final goodbye.
“I was the only person in my family who was with him the whole time. When I lost my father to Covid-19, I had my colleagues around me, but the void his passing left in my heart made me feel extremely lonely,” she shared.
Meanwhile, Nazia contracted the virus in June and was hospitalized a few days after she had rushed to save a patient without wearing protective gear.
“I only had a surgical mask on, and at that moment, the patient needed urgent medical attention. The patient survived, but I tested positive for Covid-19 a couple of days later and was admitted to the hospital,” she told this correspondent.
‘Patients’ smiling faces keep my spirits up’
In another incident, Umme Fatima Farin was down with Covid-19 along with her parents and brother in May. They had caught the virus right before Farin was about to start her internship at Dhaka Medical College Hospital.
“That was one of the most difficult times for me and my family. I did not fully regain my appetite and sense of smell even after recovering from Covid-19,” she said.
Farin said she had been more concerned about her parents than herself when her whole family tested Covid-19 positive.
“My whole family suffered, but they appreciate the work I am doing during this health crisis,” she told Dhaka Tribune.
Farin said she was still mindful of the risk of carrying the virus from the hospital to her family, but the thought of the smiling faces of people who had survived Covid-19 and returned to their families kept her spirits up.