Every day as the number of coronavirus positive cases surge there is also news from around the world that gives us hope and assurance that we are all in this together as a race. Recently, a 90-year-old COVID-19 patient from Belgium has been in the news after selflessly refusing a ventilator and instructing doctors to ‘keep this for the younger’ patients. Suzanne Hoylaerts passed on to the next world two days after hospitalization but made an effort to save a life and has left with us a very important lesson in humanity.

Belgium has so far reported 12,775 coronavirus positive cases with 705 deaths. The EU country has a total population of 11.4 million. Suzanne reportedly told the doctors who were treating her, “I don’t want to use artificial respiration. Save it for younger patients. I already had a good life,” the Dailymail reported.

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Suzanne, who was from Binkom, near Lubbeek, was hospitalised on March 20 when her condition rapidly deteriorated after contracting the deadly viral disease. Hoylaerts sought medical attention after reporting a lack of appetite and shortness of breath a few common symptoms of the now pandemic infections. Subsequently, she was admitted to the hospital where she tested positive for COVID-19 and was placed in isolation. As a result, even her daughter was unable to visit her. The family is baffled as they don’t know how their mother could have contracted the disease because she complied carefully with all the ongoing lockdown measures in the country.

“I don’t want to use artificial respiration. Save it for younger patients. I already had a good life.”

Her daughter Judith told Dutch newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws, “I can’t say goodbye to her, and I don’t even have a chance to attend her funeral.”

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Importance of ventilators

Globally, health authorities are trying to find ways to fill their hospitals with more ventilators to cope with increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients. Ventilators are key medical equipment in our fight against this respiratory disease, and with the pandemic engulfing us worldwide, its shortage is a global reality. A mechanical ventilator is a medical equipment that is used to support a patient who is facing severe respiratory conditions that impact the lungs, including pneumonia.

A mechanical ventilator is a medical equipment that is used to support a patient who is facing severe respiratory conditions that impact the lungs, including pneumonia.

It is predicted that globally of all the people who will contract the coronavirus only a small percentage will need hospital care, with older patients who are in the high-risk group requiring the intensive care, including ventilators. Studies from China, which was the country where the deadly virus outbreak started have shown that having any of the conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, lung conditions and cancer regardless of age, is a risk factor for developing some of the complications of COVID-19, such as respiratory difficulties and pneumonia. And age doubles the risks involved as with age our immune system gets weakened.

We salute Suzanne Hoylaerts for her selfless gesture and making an effort to save a life.

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