1 Year of Lockdown: Remembering the Sacrifices of COVID Martyrs

“We are losing our healthcare martyrs, our warriors,” said colleagues of pregnant Dr Pratiksha who died from COVID.

2 min read

(On 24 March 2020, India went into a nation-wide lockdown to help stop the rising COVID-19 cases in India. On 24 March 2021, as we are facing a second wave, FIT is sharing some stories to mark the year that went by.)

Producer: Devina Buckshee
Video Editor: Deepthi Ramdas

“When we heard ma’am passed away, it was like the ground slipped beneath my feet.”
Dr Mala Bansod Medical officer, Irwin Government Hospital Amravati, Maharashtra

India has recorded 1 lakh deaths due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 400 among these are frontline healthcare workers. Doctors, nurses, ASHA workers and ancillary staff who put their lives on the line to protect us against the virus.

This is the story of one such doctor.

Death of a Doctor: 7 Month Pregnant Pathologist Lost to COVID-19

“Pratiksha Waldekar Ma’am was very simple and sweet-tempered. She used to do her job very responsibly.”
Dr Sandeep Sukhsohale, Physican, Irwin Hospital, Amravati

Dr Pratiksha Waldekar Gawai was a 33-year-old pathologist working in Amravati’s Irwin Government Hospital. “Everyone loved her kind nature, she was always helpful,” says Vantika Dhakde, a staff nurse who frequently worked the same shift. They were so close, in fact her daughters thought of Dr Pratiksha as their elder sister.

“For me, she was very supportive as a family,encouraging as a mentor, and caring and loving as an elder sister.”
Preshita Dhakde,Vanita Dhakde’s Daughter and Pratiksha’s family friend

‘Pregnancy Didn't Stop Her From Volunteering in High-Risk Wards'

“In spite of herself being pregnant, she didn’t refuse the duty of SARI wards or suspected corona patients. She regularly used to take her rounds she was very sincere, very humble, always she was cheerful, she was ever smiling,” says Dr Rishikesh Nagalkar, a Paediatrician, from Irwin Hospital and her close colleague.

“We felt extremely bad, that corona took not just her life but also her child’s life. She always wanted a daughter. She would talk about buying her clothes and loving her a lot. It really hurts that she is gone.”
Dr Priti More Divekar, Physician, Irwin Government Hospital, Amravati, Maharashtra

In the last week of August, Dr Pratiksha got infected and was admitted in a private hospital in Amravati. Later, she was critical, shifted to another private hospital at Nagpur. “Some healthcare workers and staff have gotten infected,” says Dr Mala, “but they recovered. We did not think we would lose her.”

‘The Entire Hospital Mourns Her Loss’

“She used to win over anyone with her kind nature.Everyone is very sad about her passing. Everyone will remember her service.”
Vanita Dhakde, Staff Nurse, Irwin Government Hospital, Amravati, Maharashtra

Dr Priti adds that the hospital held a candle-light vigil, and “everyone - from security staff to senior doctors shed a tear.” Dr Nagalkar mourned the loss of corona warriors, adding,

“This corona pandemic is not that easy, we are losing our martyrs, our warriors. Please stay safe.
Dr Rishikesh Nagalkar, paediatrician, Irwin Hospital

(This story has been republished with permission from The Quint.)

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