by Tasavur Mushtaq
SRINAGAR: The third week in July, patients were waiting for their “favourite” doctor in District Hospital Pulwama. As soon as Dr M Ashraf Mir reached the hospital, he got busy with his routine. Among his patients, that day was the mother of his doctor colleague as well.
As details of the day shared by his doctor friend reveal, Dr Ashraf lost in his love of serving the patients felt a slight fever in the afternoon. However, it did not stop there. Subsequently, he developed symptoms and tested positive for the Coronavirus. As the symptoms were getting severe, he was rushed to SKIMS, Soura on July 25.
At SKIMS, on each passing day, his condition worsened. A message went viral on social media requesting recovered Covid-19 patients to donate Plasma for the young doctor. Later, it was arranged. Sources in the hospital reveal Dr Ashraf tested negative as well. But the damage had been done. Struggling to breathe, he was shifted to the Intensive Care Unit. However, not able to survive, he breathed his last at around 6:15 in the morning of August 9, 2020.
Last words of Dr ashraf minutes before intubation at skims… @GowharGeelani @naseerganai @DrSuhailNaik @Nazirkashmiri @nazir_masoodi @islahmufti @dr_naikoo @irfanshamas @GowharDr @tariqtramboo @ pic.twitter.com/qfQ4K5Y663
— Dr Mir Mushtaq (@drmirmushtak) August 10, 2020
A young man in his forties, Dr Ashraf, his colleague insisted, had no “other underlying condition.” An active member, who fought the battle against the deadly virus for more than four months, finally was consumed by the invisible enemy.
“He fought like a warrior till the end and left us shattered this morning,” said Dr Yousuf Tak, Convener, J&K Doctors Coordinator Committee, an amalgam of various doctor bodies of J&K.
In Deep Thoughts
Dr Suhail Naik said that at SKIMS the doctors did everything they could. “They got all the drugs that are used in the treatment of the disease and they opted for plasma therapy as well,” Dr Naik told Kashmir Life. “He was on oxygen and I am told he was struggling and finally he suggested his treating doctor that he may be shifted to the ventilator. They did it but he could not manage.”
Dr Naik said the young doctor was lost in some deep thoughts even when he was responsive to his attendants.
According to the doctors treating him, he had developed lung fibrosis due to medication. “He died because of the damage to the lungs. His lungs were so much damaged that he wasn’t even getting ventilated on a ventilator,” said a doctor on condition of anonymity.
Two Widows, Two Orphans
A resident of Konibal in Pampore, Dr Ashraf, as his colleagues remember was involved in the fight against Covid from day one. “He was performing his duties in Covid ward from day one. He was a young man,” Dr Jameel Ahmad, Superintendent of District Hospital Pulwama told Kashmir Life. Dr Ashraf was serving as a senior medical officer in the same hospital.
As a professional, Dr Ashraf was respected both by patients and professionals. “As a doctor, he was popular among his colleagues and patients equally because of his care, hard work, and sense of responsibility towards the society,” said Dr Tak. “He has shattered us to the core. He was a healthy man. His death was untimely and shocking.” However, he reiterated that “the mission he laid his life for would continue.”
A lone bread earner of his family, he is survived by his mother, wife and two young children, a daughter and a son. Being eldest, Aayat, his daughter is preparing for NEET examination and, Abu Bakar, his son is a class 11th student. His father, Ghulam Hassan Mir died last year. Dr Ashraf’s wife is a school teacher. A widow, now she has to take care of her widowed mother in law and two orphans.
Urging authorities to engage more people for managing the patient load, Dr Tak said “We requested the government to engage health professionals even on temporary basis so fight the increasing numbers,” adding “every day we witness more and more healthcare professional getting affected, so there is a need to engage young professionals which we have in good numbers.”
Second Victim Doctor
Incidentally, from the same hospital, it was the second doctor who was infected by the deadly disease. Dr Mushataq was the first victim of the disease and he somehow survived one doctor privy of the developments said. “Soon after Dr Ashraf got the infection and could not survive,” he added.
Dr Ashraf is the second doctor who fell victim to the invisible organism. Earlier, it was an ISM doctor, Shabir Ahmad Malik who contracted the disease during contact tracing and was admitted to the SKIMS. He recovered and was discharged. A few days later the disease returned and killed him in SMHS Hospital.
“I first met him when I joined Class 11 at Higher Secondary School, Pampore. We instantly became friends and remained so till he breathed his last,” Dr Ashraf Reshi said. “Before he was put on a ventilator at SKIMS I spoke to him. He was hopeful to recover and get back to work soon.”
Reshi and Mir were together for a long time. After finishing their secondary, they together got selected for MBBS in 1990. It was the peak year of militancy so examinations were never held on time. It was frustrating but Dr Mir would keep his cool always. “He was sombre and dedicated,” said Reshi.
Finally they completed their degrees in 1999. Same year they joined Jammu and Kashmir Health Services on ad-hoc basis. Dr Mir’s first posting was in Pampore. From there he was shifted to SDH Tral, then to Awantipora, Zainapora and back to Pampore.
His final posting was in District Hospital Pulwama, which was converted into Covid-19 hospital. It was there he got infected. He tested negative for Coronavirus in the last two tests but he had developed sepsis till then and it became fatal.
Condolences Pour In
Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha has expressed shock on the demise of Dr Mohammad Ashraf Mir. In a condolence message, LG Sinha has “prayed for eternal peace to the departed soul of this great Corona Warrior, who laid his life for the welfare of the humanity and strength to the bereaved family members to bear this irreparable loss.” He has also conveyed his deepest sympathies to the family.
National Conferences’ south Kashmir MP Hasnain Masoodi has also condoled the death. “Dr. Ashraf is an inspiration to the frontline health workers engaged in battle against COVID-19 pandemic and a martyr who sacrificed himself in the line of duty,” he said and has expressed heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family.
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has also condoled the death of the young doctor. “He is hero, who was working round the clock since the pandemic began. The party has expressed sympathies with the family.
Apni party chief, Syed Altaf Bukhari has expressed grief over the demise. In a statement issued here, Bukhari described Dr Ashraf as a frontline warrior who lost his life while trying to save precious human lives from the deadly Coronavirus. “His contribution in the field of medicine especially in his home district Pulwama will be remembered by one and all,” Bukhari added.
Condoling the demise, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) president, Dr Suhail Naik, “Dr Ashraf was a front line covid warrior who contracted Covid 19 while on duty and was shifted to Sher I Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) when he developed complications about 2 weeks back. He was later on admitted in Intensive Care Unit(ICU) there as he could not maintain Oxygen saturation due to bilateral pneumonia but finally lost the battle of life early morning today.”
Urging UT administration to name sub-district hospital Pampore in Dr Ashraf’s name, a medico, Dr Suneem Khan said, “I urge on His Excellency the LG of J&K Sh. Manoj Sinha to rechristen SDH Pampore as ‘Dr Ashraf Memorial Sub District Hospital, Pampore’. It would be least of the befitting tributes to the martyr who by virtue of his professional virtues has changed many lives around Pampore.”
(Masood Hussain and Shams Irfan contributed to the report from Srinagar and Pampore)