Friday, December 3

The double tragedy of the López family


Jorge Alejandro López, graduated from the Faculty of Medicine at UNAM, together with his father, in November 2018.
Jorge Alejandro López, graduated from the Faculty of Medicine at UNAM, together with his father, in November 2018.Courtesy

In January Sharon López lost her brother, the intern doctor Jorge Alejandro López, and in February, her father, the mechanic Jorge Alejandro López Trejo. Both because of the covid-19. “Go figure. We are crumbled, undone, ”he says on the other end of the phone. If he finds the strength to continue telling his story, it is to get some answer after the negligence in the case of his little brother. Jorge died after being forced to work without protective equipment at the José María Rodríguez General Hospital of Ecatepec.

López no longer has any more requests. He says that he would only like the authorities of the State of Mexico to “stand up” and at least communicate with his family. They have not received any news from the hospital director, Héctor Flores Mercado, or from Dr. María del Carmen Ramírez Buendía, head of the Teaching and Research Division of the hospital, nor from the State Health Secretariat, led by Gabriel O ‘ Shea. “It’s as if nothing had happened here,” he says.

Jorge, who was 29 years old, worked as a trainee doctor in the emergency department, information confirmed not only by his family, but also by colleagues and other workers at the Ecatepec hospital. In one of its first communications in this regard, the Institute of Health of the State of Mexico (ISEM) tried to deny even that Jorge was in that area, considered high risk. “It is reported that he did not work in the COVID-19 area, his functions were not within the protocols for patients infected by SARS-CoV-2. Students are restricted in cardiopulmonary resuscitation maneuvers, they are not exposed to aerosols from patients ”, reads the information card of January 7. By official provision it was forbidden for students to be on the front lines of the fight against the disease. However, at the José María Rodríguez hospital the guidelines had not been met.

López was infected on December 6, 2020 by working without protective equipment. In addition, he was forced to continue working on 24-hour shifts when he already had symptoms of the disease such as loss of smell, fever or even difficulty breathing. After 20 days with an oxygen tank, he passed away on January 4 from complications from covid-19. His death generated a wave of criticism of the hospital’s handling of the case. At the end of January, the ISEM reported to this newspaper that it had initiated an investigation and that they had “shown their surprise” at the death of Jorge, both to the director of the hospital and to the head of Education “for violating the rights of inmates by give attention and transgress the instructions issued by the competent authority in matters of Undergraduate Internal Doctors during the contingency due to SARS-CoV-2 ″.

The lack of responsibility for Jorge’s death is full of anomalies. In a communication, the ISEM even denied that Jorge was positive for covid-19. When his PCR test, which took almost three weeks to provide results, came with the disease detected.

“The explanation that the hospital has given is full of pure lies,” says Sharon López, who had a meeting this week with the National Human Rights Commission of the State of Mexico, which has also opened a file on the case. “My brother’s rights were violated,” he says.

In the search for answers for Jorge’s case, the fight to save his father had joined. Jorge Alejandro López Trejo was 56 years old and ran a mechanical workshop. She was infected on December 28, while taking care of her son at night. “He would arrive in the afternoon and my brother didn’t want him to leave. Because I was scared. So when it was already daylight, around six o’clock in the morning, my dad was already going home, ”Sharon told EL PAÍS a month ago.

When his son passed away, Mr. López Trejo began to get worse. He was admitted with pneumonia to the General Hospital of Ecatepec, the same one where Jorge worked. “They told us that he could recover in seven or 14 days.” Later they transferred him to Las Américas because “he would be better cared for, they had better equipment,” says Sharon. The doctor announced to the family, who was going to receive reports twice a day, that he had repairable pulmonary fibrosis and was a candidate for a treatment called ECMO. This technique consists of maintaining respiratory function with mechanical ventilation equipment while the patient’s blood is withdrawn, cleaned, oxygenated and returned to the body.

The treatment required a total of two million pesos (almost 100,000 dollars): the rental of the device for 400,000 and the 50,000 pesos for daily assistance. “We didn’t have those resources,” Sharon laments. They tried to start a fundraising campaign, but were unsuccessful.

His father passed away on February 7 after also reporting kidney failure. Sharon and her family were unable to say goodbye. Jorge Alejandro López Trejo and his son are two faces of the tragedy that Mexico faces during this pandemic, which has made the coronavirus the second cause of death in the country. After this January, in which more than 1,000 deaths have been registered daily and with days of up to 20,000 infected, Mexico has become the third country with the most deaths from covid-19. A total of 177,061 Mexicans have lost their lives due to the virus.

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