While the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise globally, hospitals all over the world are scrambling to treat the influx of patients in their intensive care units.
The current lack of resources and facilities is overwhelming the health care systems of many nations. In the US, the state of New York is experiencing a shortage of personal protective gear such as surgical masks, gloves, and gowns, as well as a lack of medical personnel. They also faced a possible shortage of intensive care units for the severe cases.
This dire situation prompted Governor Andrew Cuomo to appeal for help. Private individuals and companies responded to his call, such as designer Christian Siriano, who volunteered to produce masks. Just last week, a team of health care professionals from Atlanta flew to New York to aid the state.
In Italy, there have been reports of doctors forced to treat younger patients over the elderly due to the lack of resources, as the former had better chances of survival. The European country has already surpassed China’s death toll, recording 13,155 fatalities as of April 2.
There is also news of senior patients refusing to use ventilators so that younger patients can use them instead. One of them is a 90-year-old Belgian woman named Suzanne Hoylaerts.
Judith, Suzanne’s daughter, first brought her mother to the doctor when she began experiencing a loss of appetite and shortness of breath. On March 20, she was hospitalized and placed in isolation when she tested positive for the virus, meaning Judith couldn’t visit her.
Suzanne reportedly told doctors: “I don’t want to use artificial respiration. Save it for younger patients. I already had a good life.“
She suffered from low oxygen concentration, which required her to be placed under in one of the intensive care units. Unfortunately, Suzanne’s condition quickly deteriorated. Two days after coming to the hospital, she succumbed to the virus on March 22.
Judith, devastated over her mother’s passing, told Dutch newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws: “I can’t say goodbye to her, and I don’t even have a chance to attend her funeral.”
Funeral services, as well as birthdays, weddings, and graduation ceremonies, have been canceled in many countries as authorities work to prevent the spread of infection.
Judith said that Suzanne was hospitalized last year for pneumonia. She also lived alone and “took the lockdown seriously,” leaving her family members baffled as to how she could have contracted the virus when she strictly stayed home. Before she was isolated, Suzanne told Judith, “You must not cry. You did everything you could.”
As of Wednesday, Belgium has reported almost 14,000 confirmed cases, according to John Hopkins University. Over 800 people have died. Hospitals around the world are suffering from a shortage of medical supplies, including ventilators, a necessary piece of equipment used in battling respiratory illnesses like the flu and COVID-19.
It’s crucial in helping severely ill patients confined in intensive care units for their recovery as this device pumps oxygen in someone’s lungs when they are unable to breathe on their own.
It’s heartbreaking to hear that people like Suzanne have to give up on their chances of survival so that others may live. Her brave sacrifice is something that the world will never forget.
Rest in peace, Suzanne Hoylaerts.