Family of front-line Burnaby doctor begs people to take COVID-19 crisis seriously

The family of a Burnaby doctor who is helping to get hospital patients off ventilators so other people sick with coronavirus can use them is imploring people to take the COVID-19 crisis more seriously.

In a Facebook post Saturday, Heather Hirji said her husband, Zameer Hirji, an interventional radiologist at Royal Columbian Hospital, was preparing to help put chest tubes in hospital patients in hopes of getting them off ventilators.

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“Because there is already a shortage of ventilators,” Hirji wrote. “Our four-year-old son is upset because he doesn't want daddy to go and get sick then make us all sick too.”

Hirji’s post included a photo of her preschooler locked in a tight hug with his dad.

“If you're doing your part and staying home, thank you,” Hirji wrote. “If you're not staying home and think you're entitled to live your life without any regard for others, look at this photo. I'm appealing to your sense of compassion and responsibility.”

Chest tubes are hollow, flexible tubes placed in the chest to drain fluid from the lungs and make breathing easier for patients with pneumonia and other lung problems.

Interventional radiologists use imagining technology, such as fluoroscopy, computed tomography (CT) and ultrasound, to guide the placement of the tubes.

Some people aren’t taking the COVID-19 crisis as seriously as they should, in part because the government “isn’t doing enough,” according to Hirji.

“There is this hesitation to say exactly what is going on and we are being sheltered!” she said. “Maybe it's that lack of fear or lack of information that is making some people feel invincible. We should be scared. We should wake up. We should all do our part. It's sad to say that I hope shaming the delinquents will force them to comply and stay home. This means no playdates, no visits, no strolls around the seawall arm in arm. If we all take this seriously and love one another we can overcome this.”

As of Friday morning, the post had been shared more than 500 times on Facebook.


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