More than 3,600 people died in the UK after positive coronavirus tests. Among them are the frontline medical team. Sirin Kale tells the story of two of them.
The two men did not know each other, their paths probably never crossed, but in death they would find a strange symmetry. Dr. Amged El-Hawrani and Dr. Adil El Tayar – two British-Sudanese doctors – became the first doctors who died of coronavirus in the United Kingdom.
Their families do not want them to be remembered that way – but as family men, who loved medicine, helping their community and their heritage.
Like many men and women who come from abroad to join the NHS, El-Hawrani, 55, and El Tayar, 64, left friends and relatives at home to devote their careers to UK health care. They married and had children – El-Hawrani settled in Burton-Upon-Trent; El Tayar in Isleworth, London. And they became pillars of their communities, maintaining ties to the country of birth, Sudan that both men loved.
Their stories are illustrative of the many doctors born abroad who have so far been facing Covid-19.
El Tayar Family
Adil El Tayar was born in Atbara, in northeastern Sudan, in 1956, the second of 12 children. Her father was an employee of a government office; his mother had her hands full, raising the litter. Atbara was a railway city, built by the British to serve the line between Port Sudan, on the Red Sea coast, and Wadi Halfa, in the north. It is a united community, where the first Sudanese labor movement began in 1948. Everyone knows everyone.
"He came from humble beginnings," says Adil's cousin, Dr. Hisham El Khidir. "Whatever went into that house had to be divided between 12 children. That is why he was so disciplined when he grew up."
El Tayar Family
In Sudan, in the 1950s and 1960s, brilliant young people became doctors or engineers – respected professions that would give the whole family a better life. And when you are one of 12 children – well, a lot of people help to take care of it. Adil knew this, which is why he was a diligent student, even at a young age. But in Sudanese culture, he did not care about taking care of his family is not seen as a burden. It is exactly what you do.
"He was always so serious, so focused," recalls Hisham. "He wanted to do medicine from an early age, because it was a good career in a third world country." He had a calm and loving disposition. "Never in the years that I met him, I never heard him raise his voice." Hisham looked at Adil, who was eight years older than him, and then followed in his footsteps to become a doctor.
The El-Hawrani family lived almost 350 km (217 miles) away, via a railway line that connects Atbara to the capital Khartoum. It was there that Amged was born in 1964, the second of six boys. Her father, Salah, was a doctor, and in 1975 the family moved to Taunton, Somerset, before settling in Bristol four years later.
El-Hawrani amended (left) as a child – with father Salah and older brother Ashraf
"Dad was one of the first waves of people who came from Sudan in the 1970s," recalls Amged, Amged's younger brother. "We didn't know any other Sudanese family growing up in the UK. It was just us and the English. It felt like an adventure. Everything was new and different."
Only one year old, Amged and his older brother Ashraf were inseparable. "Both of them could have done anything," says Amal. "They were smart, versatile. They loved football and technology. They embraced everything – they just drank everything."
Amged beloved gadgets. "He always showed up with this kit he just bought," Amal laughs, "saying: & # 39; I just bought a projector that fits in your pocket, let's watch a movie! & # 39;"
Altered photo of El-Hawrani from the Royal College of Surgeons in 1993
Amged and Ashraf studied medicine, like their father. And then, in 1992, a tragedy occurred – Ashraf died of an asthma attack, aged 29. It was Amged who discovered his body.
"It had a huge emotional impact on him," says Amal. "But he became the family stone." He even named his son Ashraf, after his brother.
In the coming decades, Adil and Amged forged careers in the NHS. Adil became an organ transplant specialist, while Amged specialized in ear, nose and throat surgery.
The life of an NHS doctor is not easy – it is a high-risk job, which often keeps you from your family.
El Tayar Family
Adil El Tayar with colleagues
But Adil's children always felt that he had time for them. "As tired as he was, he always came home from work and made sure to spend time with each of us," says his daughter Ula, 21. "He cared so much about family life."
El Tayar Family
Adil El Tayar with family members
Adil loved working in her garden, taking care of her apple and pear trees and planting flowers everywhere. "It was his happy place," says Ula. He also loved to collect new friends. "He used to barbecue in the summer and there was often a random person there that you never met before," jokes Adil's son, Osman, 30. "You want to know where he got them from."
Amged was intellectually curious and a great talker. "He was one of those people who had an encyclopedic knowledge of everything," says his brother Amal. He was also a Formula 1 fan – Ayrton Senna was his legend. "Amged was generous and without guile," recalls friend Simba Oliver Matondo. They met when they had the same class at the university and spent the years studying eating Pizza Hut food – a great delight at that time – and watching Kung Fu movies.
On April 3, four British doctors and two nurses died after positive tests for COVID-19. Five were from BAME communities (black, Asian and ethnic minority). In addition to Adil and Amged, there is Dr. Alfa Sa & # 39; niger, born in Nigeria, Dr. Habib Zaidi, born in Pakistan, and nurse Areema Nasreen, who was of Pakistani heritage. "We regret the death of our colleagues in the fight against COVID-19," says Salman Waqer, of the British Islamic Medical Association. "They enriched our country. Without them, we would not have an NHS."