Reserve this respirator for young people

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Brian Adam
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“Reserve this respirator for young people.”

A person lies connected to a machine. In small, Suzanne Hoylaerts./R.C.
A person lies connected to a machine. In small, Suzanne Hoylaerts. 

Belgian Suzanne Hoylaerts, 90, dies in a hospital after refusing assisted ventilation: “I have already had a good life.”

The daily torrent of fatal figures caused by the coronavirus for weeks has led us to develop a kind of self-defence mechanism whereby we forget that behind each digit there is a person and behind each person a story. In the absence of a vaccine, it is another way to immunize yourself against the unbearable. But in Spain, in Italy, in France, in China, in the United States …, and also in this small country of just eleven million inhabitants, a number hides a life (an example of life, in fact) in many cases with an end edifying. Here in Belgium, her name is (was called) Suzanne Hoylaerts. He was 90 years old, entered the ICU after being detected by the bug and rejected an assisted ventilator. “Reserve this for the youngest who have already had a good life.” So it went out.

From a large family, Suzanne suffered the Nazi invasion during World War II, poverty, and others many personal blows Like the death of a son and daughter-in-law and that of her husband. However “she had always managed to overcome these setbacks. Laughter was her medicine,” recalled her daughter Judith in the newspaper ‘Het Laatste Nieuws’.

THE KEY:

A difficult life. From a large family, he suffered the Nazi invasion, poverty and many other personal blows Always ready to help. In his home confinement, he continued to knit clothes for a charity.

How he got the virus is not explained. Because Suzzane was methodical, she was known among the at-risk population, and he had taken restrictions very seriously. In Belgium, the first measures began to be applied on March 12 and days later; they were reinforced with strict confinement that, in principle, will remain until the 19th. Suzzane respected it. But her life has been one of the 828 that the Covid-19 has devastated here, including, also, that of a 12-year-old girl, the youngest European victim. And all in a climbing scenario, with 14,000 infections to date.

But Suzzane “had had a good life.” So he sacrificed himself. He told the doctor that he wanted to connect her to the artificial respirator and they were the last words that his daughter Judith also heard when she was already in the hospital after her GP advised the admission due to too low an oxygen saturation level.

No clear symptoms

The health status of this neighbour in Lubbock, in the Flanders region, had begun to deteriorate days before. She did not have a dry cough or fever, the two most common symptoms associated with the infection. But there was lost appetite, and it did not take away from the food. As she had suffered pneumonia last year around this time, which led to her being admitted to the hospital for a few days, Judith accompanied her to the doctor. I was afraid of a relapse. And, when he last entered on the 20th, “we thought he had mild pneumonia.”

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