Doctors on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic have been doing their best to help COVID-19 patients feel comfortable in their final moments. Now, a doctor has shared heartbreaking clips from his family’s final FaceTime call with his father, who was terrified of dying alone during the coronavirus quarantine.
Alex Yuen, 71, was taken to St George’s Hospital just days after collapsing in his Tooting, London home. His son, Sebastian Yuen, works as a pediatrician at Chesterfield Royal Hospital and told ITV News that he didn’t anticipate it would be the last time he’d talk to his father.
Mr. Yuen, who ran a Chinese clinic for 20 years, is described by his family as a “very passionate person” who was “always the life and soul of a party” and “the loudest in the room.”
Mr. Yuen had underlying health conditions. The 71-year-old patient was suffering from chest problems, emphysema, and heart problems. When he was diagnosed with COVID-19, his fear exacerbated.
His Final Moments
Speaking about his dad’s illness, Sebastien told ITV News: “He was slow to answer questions at times, his lips looked dry and yet his mind was clear, [he said] I don’t want to die alone, don’t make me go to [the] hospital, I want to stay here.” But that wasn’t an option, and Mr. Sebastian was taken to the hospital.
Rhiannon Emary, a clinical nurse specialist at St George’s Hospital, helped look after Mr. Yuen in his final moments. She asked Mr. Yuen what she could do for him.
“‘He said ‘I just want to feel love,’ so I relayed that back to his family, which I found quite emotional,” Emary told ITV News.
Mr. Yuen was on a ventilator receiving treatment for the deadly virus when he spoke to his son for the last time. Sebastian told ITV News (video below) that on the call, “We all said we loved each other and we were deeply present in that moment, it was so powerful.”
Sebastian has since called for technological improvements to help people communicate with patients, and for WiFi in National Health Service hospitals to be boosted so that families can stay in touch.
“All of this brings some form of closure and he wasn’t alone, he knew we were there… that video call, previously I would have thought you had to be in the same room, but that was truly real and I just hope other people can experience that, that was a moment I’ll keep with me,” Sebastian said.
Dying Alone Coronavirus Video — Sources
‘It was so powerful’: Doctor said last goodbye to dad with coronavirus over video call
Son shares poignant footage of family’s final FaceTime call with his father before he died from coronavirus aged 71
Don’t Want to Die Alone: Doctor son shares heartbreaking footage of coronavirus dad in family’s last FaceTime call