Today is my birthday. I turn 27 today. I was supposed to be spending the day home with my parents in my hometown, Kluang - just an hour and a half's drive away from where I am in Singapore.
Instead, because of the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak, I've been roped in to help out with the Infectious Diseases team who have understandably been overwhelmed with the huge amount of patients now warded in Tan Tock Seng Hospital with SARS. Over the last week or so I have been on the frontlines in SARS patient care in Singapore.
I have sent my share of patients down to ICU, I have admitted new patients, I have taken bloods, written up medication lists, done discharge summaries. I have seen cases ranging from Singapore's 4th and 5th new index cases to people who really shouldn't be admitted for SARS because they probably don't have it.
However, that's not why I'm rambling on here. I am not happy today because one of my friends is dying from SARS. He was a cardiology medical officer (i.e. doctor) in my hospital who was infected, together with a bunch of other staff, about two weeks ago when they intubated a patient who was in respiratory distress. It turned out later that their patient had SARS and had been misdiagnosed as having congestive cardiac failure on admission ... this was before SARS became front page news over here ... and before wearing protective masks became mandatory.
Anyway, while the rest of the team have more or less recovered from their same infection with SARS, this guy has taken a turn for the worse. Just on Friday night, he collapsed and was hypoxic for an unknown period of time. Despite resuscitation and a quick transfer to the ICU, it now appears that he now has multi-organ failure. His vital signs are hovering just above danger levels despite now being on the best intensive medical treatment the hospital has to offer.
This guy is engaged to be married in September - I know his fiance (who thankfully did not catch it from him). His mother is in hospital with SARS (she was not so fortunate).
Though he was not a very close friend, I have known him for 8-9 years and have always known him to be a nice guy, dependable and trustworthy. As far as I know, a good guy.
I saw him down in the ICU today. I read his clinical notes. I observed his vitals on the screen next to his bed.
All he did was do his job.
I don't think he's going to make it.
The good die young