With tens of thousands of deaths in the UK alone, it can be easy to become numbed to the scale of the suffering and pain caused by the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.
One acute care doctor at Epsom Hospital has sought to cut through the statistics of coronavirus and show its face up close by sharing his experiences on the frontlines of the pandemic.
Dr Imran Malik is a Consultant in Acute Medicine at the Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust.
As such he was thrust into the forefront of the coronavirus pandemic when cases began to balloon several months ago.
Dr Malik told the Comet that the early days of the pandemic were fraught with difficulties as the medical community raced to learn more about Covid-19 even as it spread across the UK and beyond.
“It took weeks to settle the argument between good hydration, optimal oxygenation and early ventilation against keeping patients dehydrated, oxygen-deficient and mechanical ventilation only as a last resort,” he described.
“Yet the centre of this chaos… saw an amazing unstinting altruistic display from health and care workers, as they rose unprepared to an uninvited challenge and became frontline fighters, knowingly risking their own and their family’s lives, only on the moral grounds to do so,” Imran added.
Moreover, the acute care specialist described, people infected with the virus frequently displayed remarkable acts of bravery too even as the virus threatened to take their lives away.
“Surely, the selflessness of a 72 year old retired constable I saw in Epsom Hospital A&E, who was admitted with Covid-19, requesting treatment only if there was an “uncontested” bed, or another gentleman I saw few days later, with a growth in his neck, obstructing the blood supply to his brain, but still offering to go home, so his bed could be given to someone else, is nothing short of a sacrifice,” Imran said.
The specialist consultant, who worked on the Chuter Ede Acute Medical Unit (AMU) and Ambulatory Care ward at Epsom Hospital at the height of the pandemic, is also a man of faith.
A member of the Muslim Ahmadiyya community, Imran said that his religion informed his approach to confronting the pandemic as a frontline healthcare worker.
“As an Ahmadi Muslim, the audacity to risk my own life for the sake of my country is enacted in my faith,” he said.
He also revealed that, in fighting the virus, he and his family members had become infected.
“A week after the lockdown, the virus silently made its way into my house and one by one, the whole of my family was inflicted with the symptoms. Only few days into my illness, testing for healthcare professionals became available and by the time, I received the positive result, it was marked by relief that I survived the virus and should soon be ready to re-join the frontline warriors, to protect the NHS.”