COVID-19: Many Indian-American doctors in frontline make ultimate sacrifice
Washington: Indian-American Dr Madhvi Aya, who contracted the coronavirus in the line of duty in New York, the country's COVID-19 epicentre, could only exchange text messages with her husband and daughter from her hospital bed before she lost the battle to the deadly virus.
The 61-year-old woman, who moved to the US along with her husband in 1994, was among the several Indian-American doctors in the frontline in the fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic.
"Aya's text messages and her family's account of her final days reveal a woman who spent much of her life devoted to medicine before succumbing to the cruel and familiar arc of a patient with COVID-19," reported Sun-Sentinel newspaper.
Indian American community leaders say that quite a number of Indian American doctors have been infected during this once-in-a-century public health crisis.
The number could be in several dozens and several of the Indian-American physicians have succumbed to coronavirus. A majority of them are said to be from New York and New Jersey.
Dr Rajat Gupta (name changed) was attending a coronavirus patient in the emergency room of a hospital in New Jersey early this month. A few moments later, the patient threw up. It hit his face with a force.
Gupta fell ill and he tested positive for the coronavirus. Despite best efforts, doctors could not save his live, adding to the growing list of Indian-Americans who have died due to COVID-19.
"It's hard to know the exact number of infected ones," Ravi Kolli, secretary of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), told PTI. "There are at least 10 (Indian American doctors) who are critically ill."
One of the largest doctors' organisations of its kind, the AAPI represents more than 80,000 Indian-American doctors, who constitute the largest ethnic group of physicians in the US.
"AAPI members, as a group, are over-represented in all the hotspot areas, as well as caring for underserved populations," he said.
Early this week, Indian American nephrologist Priya Khanna, 43, died in a New Jersey hospital. Her father Satyendra Khanna (78), a general surgeon, has tested positive and is said to be in a critical condition in the intensive care unit in the same hospital.
"Indian-American physicians are the real heroes. Many have become positive in the process, some have died, some are in ICU now and some are recuperating at home," AAPI vice president Dr Anupama Gotimukula said.
Community leaders are praying for Dr Ajay Lodha, a former AAPI president, who has tested positive for COVID-19 and now is in ICU in a New York hospital.
Gastroenterologist Dr Anjana Samadder from Ohio, wife of former AAPI president Dr Gautam Sammader is also reported to be battling for her life. Another prominent Indian American physician Dr Sunil Mehra is said to be in serious condition.
"They are bravely leading the enormous challenge of fighting COVID 19 pandemic at their own personal risk without a second thought, which speaks volumes for their compassion, commitment and sense of duty," Kolli said.
According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Asian American are least impacted by coronavirus among various ethnic groups. According to a CDC data that was recently updated, they account for nearly 4.4 per cent of the total infected cases."
The virus has killed more than 40,000 people in the US and over 7,63,000 have tested positive.
Indian American Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi expressed his gratitude to the physicians and other healthcare professionals for their dedication to the nation, for helping all to cope with the situation, guaranteeing the wellbeing of all".
"The healthcare workers have been feeling vulnerable as the disease can affect them and their family members and sense of duty to serve at the same time," said Dr Jayesh Shah.
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