“I said goodbye touching his face through my double pair of gloves.”

The last moment of human interaction between Mario, a 78-year-old diabetic patient with coronavirus, and his Spanish nurse reads like a science-fiction thriller.

Who could have predicted, just three months ago, we would be battling a virus so contagious that isolated patients are cut off from all human contact save protective gloves, full-face masks and hazmat suits.

Mario, one of 2,991 coronavirus deaths recorded in Spain, died alone.

But his nurse, who left an anonymous story on a nurses’ association website, did her best to make sure he wouldn’t be forgotten. (Full story below.)

Cinco horas con Mario (A translation)

“I am one of the many nurses working overtime in this country in these difficult times; I’m one of the many that cares for patients who test positive for Covid-19 every day.

“But of all those patients, all with their first and last names, there is one that has affected me especially, his name is Mario.

“Mario is one of the patients admitted to the unit in which I am now working, he is around 75 years old and he is one of hundreds of thousands of citizens in his age range, with hypertension, diabetes, at risk, though to date living a normal life.

“Mario was admitted to the hospital almost a week and a half ago after feeling a sensation of shortness of breath, cough and temperature higher than normal.

“In the ER, he was diagnosed with respiratory failure and tested positive to Covid-19.

“With him, as with the rest, isolation measures were taken: a single room and no visits.

“Only health personnel could enter. Communication with the outside world was practically null.

“During the entire time he has been admitted, he has lived the solitude of isolation and physical contact has been reduced to the daily contacts he has with staff.

“Medical visits to the room, as it appears in the protocols, were limited as much as possible because personal protective equipment are scarce.

“For this reason, contacts with Mario were brief and my access to the room, even if I wanted to, had to avoid any transmission.

“Several days passed, and the virus took its toll on Mario.

“Although he entered as an independent person upon arrival, after days under the infection, he could no longer fend for himself: respiratory failure worsened, bilateral pneumonia caused a generalised infection and he required a high supply of oxygen.

“The deterioration was very fast and seemed unstoppable.

“It was reaching 12pm, midday, and Mario’s life was hanging by a thread.

“We had to make the most difficult and hard decision: do we go ahead with the impossible or do we let him go and make it as comfortable as possible?

“Finally, his heart couldn’t take it anymore. Despite fighting to stay alive in the solitude of his room, at one in the afternoon the doctor confirmed his death.

“There were several days I was with him, several days in which I have had the good fortune to know him, several days of laughter and jokes when it was allowed, several days of solitude with him, but this last day, that of the farewell, the one that was just him and me, was especially hard.

“I said goodbye stroking his face through my double pair of gloves.

“It was five hours with Mario until he was unable to do more.

“His death has added to the sad statistics of victims of Covid-19, but for me it will not just be another number. For me, he will always remain Mario.”

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