Magnificent seven: the brave frontline workers who gave their lives for Covid-19 patients

Notable mentions for health workers who lost their lives helping others at the height of the pandemic

Dr Varsha with her husband Dr Sudhir Rambhau Washimkar, who worked in Burjeel Royal Hospital Al Ain, contracted the virus on May 9 and died a month later. Courtesy: Washimkar family
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Health professionals who died of Covid-19 after working to treat infected patients were hailed as national heroes and conferred the Fallen Frontline Heroes Order by President Sheikh Khalifa.

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, called their families to thank them personally on Monday night.

But who were these people that gave their lives to help and protect the country?

Dr Sudhir Rambhau Washimkar, who worked in Burjeel Royal Hospital Al Ain, caught the virus on May 9 during a shift as head of the emergency room.

The 61-year-old moved to the UAE 12 years ago from India and previously worked at NMC Specialty Hospital in Al Ain.

There, he became head of the emergency room before joining VPS Healthcare as a specialist of internal medicine in 2018.

His wife, Dr Varsha Washimkar, received a call from Sheikh Mohamed about 6pm.

“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,” she said.

Lezly is survived by her husband and young child, who are in the Philippines. Courtesy: Burjeel

Nurse Lezly Orine Ocampo from the Philippines died after catching the virus during her work with Burjeel Homecare Services.

The popular nurse was just 32 when she died on International Nurses Day, May 12.

She left behind a husband, Julius Eddel Concepcion, 33, and a daughter, Julia Sharmydel, 6.

Mr Concepcion said he took a call from the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi while at home in the Philippines.

Ocampo's colleague, Dalia Hamed, operations manager at Burjeel Homecare Services, described her as a “beacon of light” for her co-workers.

“When the pandemic put a great stress on health care, Lezly came up to me in her usual jolly demeanour and presented an idea of extending her shift to longer hours,” she said.

“Selfless, committed and passionate, she was a true Nightingale.”

Marlon Jimenea worked in the ICY at the University Hospital of Sharjah and died three weeks after contracting Covid-19. Courtesy: The Filipino Times

Marlon Jimenea, also from the Philippines, was a nurse in the intensive care unit at the University Hospital of Sharjah.

The 44-year-old was admitted to hospital with symptoms of Covid-19 on April 5 and died three weeks later. He left behind a wife and young daughter.

Tributes were posted on social media from the Philippine Nurses Association, colleagues and friends who described Jimenea as a big brother figure and “fallen hero”.

“We see Marlon as a model of loyalty in his dedicated service to the people and to his duty being in the medical profession,” said colleague Shirley Gorospe.

“We consider each other as one big family in the hospital and he was a good mentor, a big brother who is irreplaceable.”

Dr Muhammad Usman Khan died of Covid-19 in Abu Dhabi at the age of 56. Courtesy: Alia Usman 

Dr Muhammad Usman Khan, who treated mostly blue-collar workers at Care Point Clinic in Abu Dhabi, died of Covid-19 on May 15 at the age of 56.

He moved to the Emirates 11 years ago and was the first Pakistani doctor in the UAE lost to the pandemic.

Khan, a general practitioner, was survived by his wife Alia Usman and two children Mohanad, 6, and Akhdan, 5.

Ms Usman, 42, received a call from the Fallen Frontline Workers Office on Monday.

“I feel happy that my husband’s hard work and sacrifice will not be forgotten,” she said.

“I was told that they would help in everything possible for us – my children’s education, housing and [UAE] visa.”

Khan told his wife he wished to be buried in his home country, but was laid to rest in the UAE because of Covid-19 precautions.

“It’s tragic that my kids lost their father at such a young age, but he left this world as a hero and I will always remind them of that,” Ms Usman said.

Dubai, April 12, 2018: (C) Jackline Qassimbo who needs donations to pay for her dialysis talks to (L) Dr Bassam Bernieh, Chief Medical Office ,Home Hemodialysis at her residence  in Dubai. Satish Kumar for the National / Story by Shereena Al Nuwais

Dr Bassam Bernieh, 64, was a consultant in nephrology who specialised in helping patients with serious kidney problems.

A fellow of the American Society of Nephrology fluent in Arabic, French and English, Bernieh was chief medical officer of the Home Hemodialysis unit at the Department of Health in Abu Dhabi and a senior consultant at Heart Medical Centre, Al Ain.

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Originally from Syria, Bernieh was a clinical professor of medicine at the UAE University with 28 years experience working with renal patients and was chairman of the ethical committee.

His research into kidney disease led to the publication of more than 35 scientific papers in peer-reviewed medical journals.

“My dad dedicated his life to his work and always ensured to give his patients the best care,” said daughter Mariam Bernieh.

“He treated critical covid patients since the beginning of the pandemic and he was always willing to give his all.”

Bernieh was admitted to hospital after testing positive for the virus on September 1.

A week later and his condition worsened and was transferred to the intensive care unit.

He passed away on September 27 leaving behind a wife, two sons and two daughters.

“My mother was very honoured to receive a call from His Highness Sheikh Mohamed,” said Ms Bernieh.

“He told her that he was very proud of my father’s work and the sacrifice that he made, that his sacrifice will never be forgotten and it will live on our hearts forever.”

Patient administrator Anvar Ali was a married father of two who lost his life after catching Covid-19.

Ali worked at Mediclinic Airport Road Hospital in Abu Dhabi, where he looked after the day-to-day operations of patient management atthe busy health facility.

He also held a role at the hospital’s out-patient pharmacy, ensuring those leaving the hospital to go home had the correct medication to continue their care.