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Monday, June 14, 2021

Delhi-NCR loses four prominent doctors to Covid this week

Among the casualties: anaesthetist who donated blood 70 times, orthopaedic who never turned away a patient

Written by Aranya Shankar | New Delhi |
Updated: May 12, 2021 11:54:00 pm
Mass cremation of COVID-19 victims at a crematorium. Image used for representation. (Express Photo by Rohit Jain Paras)

The relentless Covid surge in Delhi and NCR continues to take a toll on the medical community, with doctors Vivek Arora, Anubha Garg, Shekhar Agarwal and Anil Wahal succumbing to the disease in the last few days.

Dr Arora (53), an anaesthetist who died Wednesday, had donated blood 70 times in his lifetime to help patients. “On April 21 he developed a fever and got a Covid test, but it came negative. Due to this, he thought there may be some other reason for the fever, but within a few days he developed breathlessness. He was then admitted to a hospital in Ghaziabad. However, his saturation kept slipping. He was shifted to a bigger hospital in Ghaziabad and put on a ventilator after developing pneumothorax, but he died today. He had received both doses of the vaccine and had no comorbidities,” said Indian Medical Association’s (IMA) East Delhi secretary Radha Jain.

Arora leaves behind his wife and two sons. “He was a very lively person who donated blood 70 times in his lifetime. He never considered money a factor; he would just operate if someone needed it. He was very helpful. All his friends are distraught,” she said.

Dr P K Lakhani, an anaesthetist and friend of Arora’s, said he had started working once the first Covid test came negative. “He worked for 3-4 days after that. When he went to hospital for an emergency surgery, he developed some breathlessness and he returned home. He checked his oxygen saturation, which was lower than normal…He was a very honest man, full of professional integrity and never ran after money,” he said

Dr Anubha Garg (41), a practicing gynaecologist, also succumbed to Covid Wednesday. Jain said she was also a resident of Ghaziabad but had been admitted in Moradabad due to the oxygen shortage in Delhi-NCR.

“Her husband is also a doctor and she has two daughters. Her condition had been deteriorating there and she was to be shifted to Ghaziabad today, but she died en route. She was obese and had been fully vaccinated,” she said.

“It has become so painful for us to issue daily condolence messages for doctors. Every day I have to issue these messages. It is important to remember that these doctors are exposed to high viral load because of the nature of their work. We know of many cases where vaccines have reduced the symptoms,” said Jain.

Dr Shekhar Agarwal (68) was a renowned orthopaedic surgeon at Sant Parmanand Hospital and succumbed to Covid on Monday. Dr Vinay Aggarwal, who knew him since 1971, said he worked almost as a “missionary”.

Agarwal was a specialist in joint replacement. He completed his MBBS in 1975, and then did his master’s in orthopaedics also from MAMC. “After that he went to England for further training. He had the opportunity to settle there but he decided to come back. After working in some hospitals, he joined Sant Parmanand Hospital, which was at that time a charitable eye hospital. He transformed it into a state-of-the-art orthopaedic unit. I have never ever seen him turn away a patient due to financial reasons,” he said.

“After being diagnosed with Covid, he was admitted in Parmanand but was later shifted to Medanta. However, it was his wish to die in his hospital, so he was shifted back to Parmanand finally, where he breathed his last. He had received both doses of the vaccine but he was asthmatic,” said Aggarwal.

Dr D K Baluja said Agarwal was instrumental in setting up the orthopaedic unit at Jaipur Golden Hospital.

Dr Anil Wahal (64), an anaesthetist at Hindu Rao Hospital, also lost his life Monday night. “He had been working for almost two years. He tested positive on April 21 but was self-monitoring at home till April 30, when he was admitted in our hospital after his oxygen fell. He had received one dose of vaccine… He was hypertensive and had a mitral valve replacement,” said Dr Alka Chandra, HoD Anaesthesia.

Wahal leaves behind his wife and two sons.

“He was a thorough gentleman, very sincere and humble. He had both excellent clinical knowledge as well as administrative knowledge,” she said.

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