AIIMS doctor removes safety gear, risks life to save COVID-19 patient

Zahid Abdul Majeed, a senior resident doctor at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), put his life at risk to save a COVID-19 patient on the way to the hospital’s trauma centre in an ambulance on May 7.

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Dr. Zahid, who works at the critical care division of the hospital, had to remove his PPE (goggles and face-shield) to re-intubate the patient. While the patient continues to be on a ventilator, the doctor is under quarantine after the exposure.

“My father called me today [Sunday] and said even if I were to die from COVID-19, he would not grieve as I saved the life of a patient and may die as a martyr. It felt like a weight had been lifted from my heart. My parents appreciated the spirit with which this intervention was performed,’’ noted Dr. Zahid on Sunday.

Hailing from Kashmir’s Wanihama-Dialgam village in Anantnag district, Dr. Zahid has been working at AIIMS for nearly two years.

“Of course, this is not an example to follow. All healthcare professionals should use PPEs. When the transfer was happening, I realised that the patient’s tube was mal-positioned and that without immediate intervention, the patient would go into a cardiac arrest. In a dim-lit ambulance, working with PPE wasn’t a viable option and I quickly removed the face-shield [they were fogging up] and goggles while keeping my N-95 mask on to perform the procedure. I immediately reported the breach in PPE and was advised to proceed to quarantine,’’ said Dr. Zahid.

Intubation and the steps leading up to it are some of the high-risk moments for COVID-19 spread to healthcare workers and other patients, according to World Health Organization, which has recommended that strict protocols to limit viral exposure must be followed.

“This is the holy month of Ramadan and I reacted to a fellow human being in distress. As a doctor and a human being, I couldn’t have let harm come to my patient. The thinking and orientation at AIIMS are such that I have always seen my teachers and seniors go that extra mile for the patients….it does affect the way you start looking at your duty,’’ said Dr. Zahid.

The doctor said he hasn’t been able to meet his parents in nearly a year now and hopes that the COVID-19 situation improves enough for him to head to his village. “I was worried about what my father would say but his reaction has filled my heart with joy and I feel so much stronger now,’’ said Dr. Zahid, adding that he is looking forward to heading back to the hospital and back to his patients at the earliest.

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Printable version | May 11, 2021 10:33:43 AM |

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