The wife of a frontline doctor who died of Covid-19 told of her pride at her husband's role in the fight against the pandemic.
Varsha Washimkar lost Sudhir, 61, after he caught the virus on May 9 while on shift as head of the accident and emergency ward at Burjeel Royal Hospital in Al Ain.
On Monday night, seven frontline workers who died were recognised by the country's leaders.
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, personally called Varsha and other relatives to thank them.
Their loss was marked with a tribute from the Emirati community who vowed to “never forget their sacrifice”.
Dr Washimkar, from Nagpur, India, died on June 6, leaving behind his wife and two sons, Siddharth, 29, and Rahul, 25. All three are doctors.
“I took the call from Sheikh Mohamed just after 6pm, he was very gracious – I cannot tell you what it meant to me to receive a call from His Highness,” said Dr Varsha, who is a medic at the police medical centre in Al Ain.
“He thanked me and my family, which we appreciated so much.
“Sheikh Mohamed said he wanted to help me and my family for ever, and that he was my brother now.
“I am so blessed to receive this call. I never thought in my life I would speak with such a great person."
Dr Washimkar joined Burjeel Royal Hospital, run by VPS Healthcare, in 2018 as a specialist in internal medicine.
He had moved to the UAE 10 years earlier and worked at NMC Specialty Hospital in Al Ain, where he moved up the ladder to become the head of the emergency room.
“Sheikh Mohamed said he was very proud of the work Dr Sudhir had done in the UAE and the dedication to his profession and the sacrifice he made,” Dr Varsha said.
“My boys are dealing with things OK, they are doctors in nuclear medicine and general medicine back in India.
“When I told them about the phone call they were also very proud that such a big leader would talk to us.
“Because their father is here, they both want to live here also and Sheikh Mohamed said he would help with that.
“This is our home and we will never leave this beautiful country."