Cavite doctor Dr. Cherry Abu got infected with COVID-19 but is looking forward to recovering from the disease and continue treating patients.
Dr. Cherry Abu has been an infectious disease specialist for 15 years. Dr. Abu is part of the Philippine Society of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (PSMID) and Philippine Hospital Infection Control Society. She was working in two Cavite hospitals, the Our Lady of the Pillar Medical Center (OLPMC) and the De La Salle University Medical Center, when she was infected by a patient.
De La Salle Brothers of the Philippines (DLSP) confirmed the status of Dr. Abu in a social media post on April 13, 2020. DLSP said Dr. Abu had been a frontliner in the fight against the coronavirus disease as early as January. She was treating students and returning vacationers from recent overseas travels.
The report says it was in mid-March when the doctor and her mother-in-law both contracted the disease. Dr. Cherry’s condition improved but her mother-in-law eventually succumbed to COVID-19.
Dr. Abu shared with Rappler the story of how she has been infected by the deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19), how is her family coping with the loss of her mother-in-law, how they dealt with harassment and discrimination and her determination to work again.
Prior to having the coronavirus disease, Abu admitted a patient with fever, cough, and myalgia, and treated him for influenza.
“So I requested for a repeat chest X-ray and complete blood count, the results of which were compatible with viral pneumonia and possible COVID-19. I transferred him to an isolation room, requested for a COVID-19 test, and prayed hard. The following day, he was transferred to the intensive care unit and was intubated,” Abu told Rappler.
After having been exposed to a patient under investigation (PUI), Dr. Abu started experiencing body pains and suspected that she was having a flare of her rheumatoid arthritis.
She shared that she did not develop fever but had minimal cough and experienced a loss of appetite in the following days as her body pains continued.
Abu instructed her husband to take her to the hospital to have a cranial CT scan after experiencing severe headaches and vomited several times. It was shown that her cranial CT scan was normal, but her chest X-ray and CT scan showed pneumonia, and her other markers for possible COVID-19 were significantly elevated. She then tested positive for the virus.
Abu also shared the other markers for possible COVID-19:
LDH (lactic acid dehydrogenase), serum ferritin, and CRP (C-reactive protein.
On March 28, Abu was discharged after her immune system improved, and was instructed to continue home quarantine for the next 14 days.
Abu related how it was such a difficult time for the family. She could not console her husband and her 73-year-old father-in-law. The worst experience she recalled was when the family experienced harassment and discrimination from their neighbors.
Despite the difficulties, the good doctor is determined to get back on her feet and that is to continue her work of treating her patients. She also plans to donate her blood that could be used for convalescent plasma therapy, one of the options being considered to treat COVID-19 patients.
“As I lie in bed, sit on a chair, and pray in my room, I continue to follow the accounts of my colleagues and other healthcare workers in countless hospitals around the country and around the globe, fighting against COVID-19 at all cost, disregarding their fears and anxieties, risking their lives, sacrificing time with family and friends, because we are called to be frontliners.
“Some of my comrades have fallen in the battle. I call myself a wounded soldier, but my wounds are starting to heal. I know we will win this battle with the Lord and the support of everyone.
“I am going back hopefully in the next few weeks – when I have fully recovered, after I have hugged and kissed my only child again, after I have seen the faces of family and friends outside of my bedroom, and after I have given Mama a decent funeral service that she deserves.
“At this point, I may never understand everything that happened to me and my family, but I rest in my understanding that God is sovereign and that He never makes mistakes. As everyone continues to do their part in putting an end to this pandemic, frontliners or not, I truly hope that we will all come out as better human beings after – kinder, grateful, forgiving, more responsible,” Dr. Cherry Abu told Rappler.
OLPMC cheered her on Dr. Cherry Abu with a social media post. “Looking at the brighter side of Covid-19 ❤️ Our brave hero, Dr. Abu!” OLPMC said.
COVID-19 survivors have come forward in an effort to encourage patients, demystify the disease, and help people understand it to stop the stigma against patients.
Actress Iza Calzado who shared the story of her battle with COVID-19 in an effort to help stop the stigma against patients.
“Lead Me Lord” composer Arnel de Pano also recovered from COVID-19 and talked to media about the care of frontliners.
Howie Severino is another COVID survivor who has spoken up to help people understand what patients and frontliners go through.
SEND WELL WISHES to Dr. Cherry Abu as she hopes to recover and rejoin ranks of frontliners battling COVID-19.
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