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Doctors' Day: 10 Medical Heroes Share Stories of Finding Hope During the Pandemic

These COVID warriors share how they found the strength, courage, and hope to carry on when winning against the Coronavirus pandemic seemed impossible.

Meet some of India's bravehearts, the healthcare professionals, who have been fighting the war against COVID-19 for as long as we can remember. This is how they healed, themselves and others, and found the strength to carry on when the future seemed uncertain and bleak.

Dr (Major) Rajesh Bhardwaj, ENT specialist, Practo

"Having worked very closely with patients suffering from COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic I have this to share - The sheer extent of the human tragedy brought in by the devastating second wave will only truly be known over time. But the wholehearted support offered by common citizens to the ill and the suffering was truly commendable and inspiring. I have a young friend who was constantly helping those in need – whether it be taking sick patients to hospitals, standing night long in queues for refilling an oxygen cylinder or transporting oxygen concentrators for the needy from those who had surplus to those in need. He transported an oxygen concentrator from Jhajjhar to Delhi in the middle of the night to help a patient who needed it. Selfless service. A true humanitarian. God give the country more such good samaritans."

Dr Ruhi Satija, consultant psychiatrist and psychotherapist

"I worked throughout my pregnancy. Even on the day of my delivery, I was seeing patients in the morning when my contractions started and I was back at work 2 weeks after the birth of my baby boy. At times I was scared but then I realised that if I gave up the fight, who will go out and do what I am meant to do? The thought that pushed me was that when my baby grows up and learns about the pandemic, I want him to learn from my experience to be a better person… someone who knows what it means that duty comes first and that life is well-lived if lived in the service of others."

Dr Yuvrajsingh Jadeja, MD Obstetrics and Gynaecology

"One incident that motivated me was when I got a frantic call from a husband of a patient, who was COVID positive and 37 weeks pregnant. I asked him to get her admitted immediately. After checking the lady, I called him in for a chat. He looked very exhausted and told me that all his family members had been suffering from COVID for the last few weeks. He broke down while narrating the story and said that he had been battling COVID himself for a week. In spite of this, he had been relentlessly taking care of his family without resting himself. We assured him that we would take care of his wife, who delivered a beautiful baby boy a day later and got the man admitted to a nearby hospital. All his parents and wife, the baby and himself are healthy and fine. This is just one out of a million stories, but something that day just sparked a new force in me. All my exhaustion and worry about my loved ones seemed trivial in front of these families who were fighting a greater battle. We may not have the medicines to treat COVID yet, till then the only medication that works is our humanity and resilience."

Dr Chytra Anand, cosmetic dermatologist and founder of Kosmoderma Clinics

“This pandemic brought about in many ways a storm and a calm. It gave us an opportunity to reset and introspect. Even when the future seemed really bleak, some people inspired me with their positivity and proactivity. The staff in my workplace offering to take a pay cut to help sustain the organisation, my friends who stepped up to use their home kitchens to deliver food to frontline workers, my hotelier friends who offered complementary services to healthcare workers and of course, my medical fraternity who put their lives at risk and worked tirelessly to overcome this pandemic even though we were unprepared… All of this has been a humbling experience and a learning experience that has in many ways helped me reset my values. Everyone came together and pitched in. We are all heroic in our own ways as this pandemic is a war.”

Urveez Kakalia, counselling psychologist, Practo

“I commend everyone who has been working tirelessly during the pandemic. I appreciate how most people also acknowledge the effort of counselling psychologists or therapists like me. One particular heart-warming moment for me happened a few months ago when I saw an Instagram post on another therapist's wall. She decided to spend one entire day each week to lend support to other psychologists. All she asked in return was to pass on the good deed and spend another hour of our time to support another professional! It really reiterated how lovely it is that we can support each other in this small community of professionals and also that we can make such a big difference in terms of a chain reaction even with small actions!"

Dr Arika Bansal, hair transplant surgeon and MD, AIIMS, New Delhi

"In a situation when everyone is trying to protect their own self and their loved ones, my friend Mohit Bhardwaj and his NGO SheWings started a COVID War Room for needy people, which made our belief stronger in humanity. SheWings, along with Ramanand Sagar Foundation, has provided necessary materials and medical aid to the people. They have helped over 2000 people by supplying oxygen cylinders, oxygen concentrators, medicines, food items and counselling to the needy. When people were getting exploited by black marketers for medicines, this NGO arranged medicines from authorised companies at a subsidised cost by paying over and above sales cost from their funds. Their selflessness motivated me and Dr Pradeep Sethi to join hands with them. They communicated with us whenever there was a critical situation with any COVID Patient. This communication gave us and our Eugenix team an opportunity to be available for people who are in real need."

Dr Riddhi Katara, cosmetic dentist and founder of Experteeth

"The five minutes before 5 pm on March 19, 2020, were inspiring for me... Those few minutes when the whole country came out to their windows clapping, ringing bells, banging plates with spoons and what not! It might sound clichéd but everyone coming together to salute doctors and COVID survivors was a uniting experience that felt so surreal. We have come so far from that time when we as dentists were scared to work inside patients' mouths! From surviving PPE kits to learning to breathe in N-95 masks and face shields and not being able to hug or share meals with families because we were continuously treating dental emergencies, the unity of the whole country to fight the deadly virus gave the strength to get through it all."

Shikha A Sharma, nutritionist and founder of Fat to Slim

"I got really emotional when I got a call from a 10-year-old boy who was battling COVID-19. He had called in asking for help because his parents were under severe stress due to his illness. My team and I quickly stepped in to help out with his entire diet plan from the morning kadha to his dinner. We consulted and treated him till he tested negative. This incident motivated me that I could do my bit to help people during this testing time to overcome this deadly virus, depression and anxiety."

Dr Venkatesh Babu, psychiatrist, Practo

"My mom gave me a reason to drive every day to the hospital during the pandemic as a health care provider. When she was tested COVID positive, she quarantined herself at home for a fortnight without any qualms or queries and followed medical recommendations as advised. A few weeks later, I had to quarantine myself for three days due to exposure to a COVID patient at the hospital and understood how difficult it is to endure everything in isolation – the disturbing thoughts, emotional distress and fear of death. So, when I asked my mom how she managed to self-isolate for a fortnight, her response was - I focused on what I can do. That is when I realised that by taking care of herself, she managed to protect the family too. Sometimes, to survive and save each other, all that is required is sincere intent and critical thinking."

Dt Surbhi Aggarwal , nutritionist, dietician and lifestyle management coach

"What restored my faith in humanity was seeing long-forgotten friends, acquaintances and even strangers coming forward to help each other in times of need. One of my husband's friends contracted the virus while he was helping out another COVID-positive family member. At the time his wife was expecting their first child. It was beautiful to see everyone come together to help him out by finding hospital beds, oxygen cylinders, food, PRP treatments and more. He was overwhelmed and told us that he felt like he had a family outside of his immediate family. Even during the oxygen crisis and scarcity of ICU beds in India, there was immediate aid given from other countries. The pandemic has made the world come together as a family."