Sicily, Italy – The 100th doctor died at the forefront of Italy when the country struggled to contain it corona virus epidemic is Samar Sinjab, a 62-year-old Syrian woman born in Damascus.
After living in the northeastern Veneto region of Italy since 1994, he contracted the virus from a patient in the early stages of a pandemic and died after spending two weeks in the intensive care unit.
He worked until his last days. The last WhatsApp message he sent to one of his patients, according to Newspaper Corriere della Sera.
More than 18,000 people have died in Italy due to COVID-19, a disease that has infected more than 143,000 people in the country.
More than 8,000 health care workers have been infected in the country, the majority in the north, according to the Italian National Institute of Health, and at least 100 the doctor has died.
The family doctor visits the patient at home, without ppersonal protective equipment (PPE), was the first person to catch the virus.
The 100th doctor who died in Italy ?? is Samar Sinjab, a Syrian immigrant to Veneto. He is remembered today by Massimo Gramellini @ Maxgramel, which sketches the front page @Corriere is a national treasure. # COVID19 pic.twitter.com/XkpEu7gBM0
– Rachel Donadio (@RachelDonadio) April 10, 2020
According to the Association of Foreign Doctors in Italy, there are around 20,000 doctors with offspring in other countries.
Of these, 3,700 come from the Middle East. Since the 1960s, young Arabs have studied medicine in Italy.
“It is an unquestionable task for us to serve our second homeland, given the unprecedented emergency,” Foad Aodi, the association’s president, told Al Jazeera.
“When treating patients, at least 15 Arab doctors were reported to have been hospitalized, three of whom are currently in ICU with severe conditions. We also lost some of our colleagues and friends. But when we mourned, we still felt committed to Italy and the profession us. “
Here, Al Jazeera profiles four Arab doctors who have lost their lives in this pandemic.
Abdel Sattar Airoud – A family doctor who came out of retirement amid the epidemic
Airoud was born in Aleppo, Syria, in 1945.
At the age of 19, he realized his dream and arrived in Italy to study medicine. He specializes in oncology and internal medicine at the University of Bologna in the north of the country.
After four years in a private clinic, he opened his own practice in a town near Piacenza, in the Emilia-Romagna region, and became a well-known family doctor for the local population.
“He was very generous and kind. He followed me throughout my three pregnancies, and never complained about my many phone calls to allay my worries. He would be missed, as a friend,” Anita Santelli, one of her patients, told Al Jazeera .
His eldest daughter, Kinda Airoud, 35, said, “My father has never forgotten his roots, Syria is part of our education.”
He has been retired for five years but returned to work when the epidemic began; he did not want to leave his former patient at a difficult time.
“We spent every summer of my youth in Syria, until the war began. But he also owed everything to the country that welcomed him, so it was natural for him to help patients who had contact with him.”
Airoud was one of the first doctors to be exposed to a corona virus from a patient. When he showed mild symptoms, he was initially tested negative.
“Then suddenly one night his condition worsened, so we called an ambulance. That’s when we last saw him,” Kinda said.
Airoud died on March 16.
His body was buried in Brescia, a city almost two hours away from Piacenza, because there was no part for Muslims at the local cemetery at the time.
After the second Syrian died, Piacenza the mayor secures a special area for Muslim burials so that they are closer to their loved ones.
Tahsin Khrisat – A gentle widower with an attentive attitude beside the bed
A Palestinian citizen from Jordan, 66-year-old Khrisat, works in Brescia, one of the hardest hit cities in the Lombardy region.
“He lost his wife a few years ago, and suffered because of it,” Federica Maestri, a former Khrisat colleague, told Al Jazeera.
He said the pain of the epidemic, “instead of closing it, opening it to a new form of sensibility and empathy for others. “
He is kind, affectionate, funny and, as an ER doctor, likes to share stories about his childhood in Amman during a rare break in a long night shift.
He then opened his own private clinic.
“Almost every day, Tahsin will send a good morning message or encourage his friends and patients, to remind them of his presence if needed. That is his way of saying, ‘I will always be there for you’,” Maestri said.
In the early days of the pandemic, he was infected by a patient.
“We use the Facebook Live feature to give relatives in both Italy and Jordan a sense of normalcy while grieving in a painful context,” Raisa Labaran, a spokesman for the Brescia Islamic Cultural Center, told Al Jazeera.
His existing heart condition makes him more susceptible to viruses. He died on March 22.
Only imams and employees from local Muslim funeral homes are allowed to attend the funeral.
Khrisat’s body is now located in the Muslim section of the Brescia public cemetery.
However, the situation of Muslim burial remains critical in Italy amid lack of space.
“Now there are only 20 places left in the cemetery, and with the current lockdown situation, it is difficult to arrange a funeral or return the body to their home country.
“Fear of the possibility of cremation, which is prohibited in Islam, adds to the overall sentiment of anxiety,” Labaran said.
Abdulghani Makki – A loving grandfather who loves Italy and Syria in equal measure
Born in Aleppo, Syria, in 1941, Makki is not only known as a doctor, but also as a cultural pillar in his local community in Sant’Elpidio a Mare, in the Marche region of Italy.
“He is a symbol of cultural integration, his story will be his legacy,” said his friend Corrado Virgili, who last saw him on March 2.
After studying medicine and surgery in Italy, he plans to return to Syria. But he fell in love with an Italian woman, and has been calling Italy since 1961.
Makki specializes in reanimation as well as pediatrics, and then dentistry.
He helped his eldest daughter Leila open and run a family clinic.
“He will work with enthusiasm to help his patients, never forgetting his role as husband, father and grandfather,” Leila told Al Jazeera.
When he doesn’t treat his patients, Makki will tell his grandchildren – the talent that sees him writing children’s books.
In his story, Makki mixed Arab and Italian traditions to encourage intercultural dialogue in his local community.
Leila said her father’s love for Syria and Italy was equal.
“In our household, there is no difference between Muslims and Christians, Italians or Syrians. My brother and I grew up with a broader understanding of humanity, thanks to him,” he said.
Makki died on March 24, at the age of 79 years.
His latest book, illustrated by his friend Virgili, will be published posthumously with the titles Mariam and Savannah Queen.
Ghvont Mouradian – ‘spiritual guide’ who specializes in alternative therapies
Known by his nickname Revont, Mouradian died on March 29, at the age of 61 years.
In addition to practicing modern medicine, he also specializes in acupuncture and hydrotherapy.
Mouradian was born to an Armenian family in Qamishli, northern Syria, where he spent his childhood.
He moved to India to study gynecology and in 1987, went to Italy to specialize in medical hydrology at the University of Pavia.
He became a respected thermal doctor in Salsomaggiore, a city in northern Italy known for its hot springs, where he continued to treat his patients until the lock was locked.
Mouradian’s relatives, who split between Syria and Lebanon, were very sad because they could not say their last goodbyes due to travel restrictions.
His niece in Beirut, Sarkis Kerkezian, wrote on Facebook: “He was there for all of us in times of trouble and when we have health problems.
“Angry with a unique sense of humor, kind, loving and caring to all his family and friends. He leaves his mark with everyone who knows him with his unique passion.”
His colleague Roberta Bianchi said on his social media page: “When you go to India or China for a few weeks, everyone will miss you. Now you go forever, you will leave an unbridgeable emptiness. He is a colleague, a friend, guide spiritual for all of us. “
Mirko Avesani, a neurologist from the Lombardy region who knew Mouradian, told Al Jazeera that these Arab doctors, who had paid the highest sacrifice, must be remembered.
“Immigration should not only be linked to problems. The sacrifice of these doctors teaches us important lessons, for future reference,” he said.
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