(This story was first published in 2021 in honour of the doctors we lost to the devastating COVID waves in India. FIT is repulishing this story in light of Doctor's Day 2022.)
The second wave of COVID in India has left a trail of devastation in its wake. Every other person you speak to is likely to have a tale of loss and grief tugging at their heartstrings.
All too familiar with the weight of the second wave are our overworked, exhausted, sleep deprived heroes—our front line health workers.
In a bid to honour their contribution and sacrifice, FIT brings you the stories of some COVID warriors—a few among the many—who lost their lives fighting the pandemic.
(FIT is of the view that no single life is more important than the other, least of all in death. Therefore, the deceased have been intentionally listed in no order but alphabetical.)
Dr Anas Mujahid
Those who knew him, knew 26-year-old Anas Mujahid to be a quiet and shy, yet pleasant and hardworking young resident.
On 9 May, he became one of the youngest doctors to lose their lives to COVID-19.
Anas had gone home to meet his family for iftar. On his way back, feeling feverish, he decided to get a COVID test done. The RT-PCR test came back positive. His condition rapidly deteriorated from there.
He was placed on ventilator support, but tragically lost to the infection within hours of his diagnosis.
He had been posted in the OB-GYN ward of Delhi’s Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital at the time, tending to patients till the day before his demise.
He is survived by his parents and four siblings.
Dr Dimple Arora Chawla
"Please, everyone, please take care," A frail and distraught, Dr Dimple Chawla can be seen saying in her last video.
Dr Dimple Arora Chawla, lovingly known as Dipika, in her last few days made the video to let people know of her story and drive in the seriousness of the pandemic.
The video was posted posthumously by her husband, Dr Ravish Chawla.
Dipika was pregnant with their second child when she tested positive for COVID-19 on 11 April 2021. A day after losing her unborn child, on 26 April, Dipika breathed her last.
“She was completely devoted to motherhood,” wrote Ravish Chawla, in a Mother's Day tribute to his deceased wife.
Dr Jagdish Kumar Mishra
Dr J K Mishra died on 25 April, after a painful battle with COVID, unable to get a ventilator bed in the hospital he served at for 50 years.
85 year old Dr Mishra, spent five decades of his life working at the Swarup Rani Nehru (SRN) Hospital, Prayagraj, but when he caught COVID on 13 April, and his condition started deteriorating drastically, the hospital that was running on full capacity had no ventilators or beds to spare for him.
The veteran doctor met his tragic end on the hospital floor, with his aged wife by his side.
He is survived by his wife, Dr Rama Mishra, who has also tested positive for COVID.
Dr K K Aggarwal
Dr K K Aggarwal was a physician and cardiologist who dedicated the last couple of years of his life to fighting the COVID pandemic in the country.
He spent hours interacting with people through his videos and webinars, dispelling fear, misinformation and guiding them patiently through all their COVID related concerns and queries.
He continued to do so till his last days, even as he himself fought COVID pneumonia.
"I'm having COVID pneumonia which is progressive. But even then remember Raj Kapoor's words – 'picture abhi baaki hai... the show must go on,'" He says in his last video.
“He wanted his life to be celebrated and not mourned. His spirit of spreading positivity in the direst of circumstances must be kept alive in each one of us,” reads a statement on Dr Aggarwal’s Twitter account, announcing his demise.
He is survived by his wife and two children.
Dr Maha Basheer
25 year old Dr Maha Basheer died of COVID complications on 27 April, just days after losing her unborn child.
All through her pregnancy, Maha continued to work at the Kanachur Medical College in Mangalore, where she was pursuing her masters.
Hailing from Kerala, Maha grew up in the UAE before she moved to Bangalore to pursue her medical career.
Maha's teachers from her schools back in the UAE came together to pay tribute to the bright student and 'head girl turned covid warrior' in a statement to Gulf News.
She is survived by her husband Dr Savafar, who she married only 8 months ago.
Dr Manisha Jadhav
"May be last Good Morning. I may not meet you here on this platform. Take care all. Body dies. Soul doesn't. Soul is immortal," reads Dr Manisha Jadhav's last, farewell post on Facebook.
51 year old Manisha, was a TB specialist and the Chief Medical Officer at the Sewri TB hospital, Mumbai, died of COVID complications on 19 April.
At the hospital, she handled clinical and administrative duties. Since March 2020, Manisha had been working to ensure the hospitals staff were getting food, travel facilities and protection equipment even when the country was facing a shortage.
She is survived by her husband, and their son.
"Serving those most in need is the only work I ever wanted to do."
These are the words of Dr Pradip Bijalwan who spent his life caring the underprivileged, and continued to do so till his very last days.
In the pandemic Dr Pradip had been working in COVID clinics of the street medicine programme that he started along with social activist Harsh Mander.
But his own battle with the infection met a tragic end when the doctor lost his life to COVID, unable to get oxygen amid the crisis of oxygen shortage in late April.
"A rare doctor disinterested in money; his only ambition to serve the most needy. For many years, he worked in our homeless street work. Until his end, he was running our COVID clinic for the homeless." wrote Harsh Mander, eulogising his friend on Twitter.
Dr Rajendra Kapila
Dr Rajendra Kapila was a renowned infectious diseases expert, and a professor at Rutgers, New Jersey Medical School.
He had come to India in the last week of March to care for his family. He was supposed to have left for the states in early April, but contracted COVID himself and had to be hospitalised.
A patient of diabetes and a heart condition, 81 year old Dr Kapila succumbed to the virus within a few days.
"For 50 years, Dr Kapila served as a foundational pillar of New Jersey Medical School," Rutgers said in a statement confirming his demise.
The medical fraternity across the world mourned his death and lamented the loss of the "true legend" in the field of infectious diseases.
Dr Shubham Upadhyay
30 year old Dr Shubham Upadhyay had been looking after COVID patients for months at the Bundelkhand Medical College when he himself contracted the infection.
Dr Shubham breathed his last on 25 November, after a month long battle with COVID, as a result of his lungs being a hundred percent infected.
Due to an impending cyclone, he could not be airlifted to Chennai for the lung transplant that could have perhaps saved his life.
Dr Vivek Rai
Dr Vivek Rai had not tested positive for COVID, but it was COVID that ultimately led to his demise.
Vivek died by suicide on 30 April.
35 year old Vivek was a student of DNM in family medicine and was posted in the ICU of Max Hospital, Saket where he tended to crucially ill COVID patients till his very last day.
The former chief of the Indian Medical Association, Dr Ravi Wankhedkar attributed his death to the failure of the system saying "He was doing covid duty since 1 month and was dealing with ICU pts every day and was providing CPR and ACLS for about 7 to 8 patients per day in which not many were surviving...he took such a difficult decision of ending his own life than living with the suffering and emotions of the people that died on his watch."
The exact reason for his decision to end his life remains unknown.
He is survived by his wife and parents.