Dubai: There was no downtime for 25-year old Indian expat Dr Aditya Varma. After returning from London for his medical exams, Dr Varma signed up to volunteer at Al Warsan Hospitality and Healthcare Centre for coronavirus (COVID-19) patients.
Sharing his experiences to Gulf News on Thursday, Dr Varma said: “Just when I thought I was going to get a well deserved break at home after months of rigorous preparation for my exam, we were struck with the unfortunate pandemic.
“A doctor who is a family friend informed me of the shortage of doctors at Al Warsan health facility and I immediately decided – without second thoughts –this was my opportunity to give back to the country I call home and to the leaders I look up to and admire,” he added.
Dr Varma started volunteering work on April 9. He has been assisting with in-patient care and also swabbing duties.
“Initially, since we had a shortage of doctors, we worked over 12-15 hour shifts but I never once saw any of my colleagues complain about the work load,” he said.
“We would get calls at all times of the day from anxious patients who required psychological support and never once did I nor any of my colleagues lose our cool. We knew we were obliged to give the patients all the mental support they required because we were their ray of hope and we would never let that flicker of hope die out,” he added.
Doctor learns from patients
Dr Varma said the medical profession has taught him three things: humility, selflessness and hard work. And one important lesson he learned while doing volunteer work was to emphathise with the patients.
“Most of the patients we encountered were from a lower socio-economic background. Those poor souls were barely getting by for their bread and butter when they were diagnosed as COVID positive,” he said.
“But one thing I saw in every one of them was the determination and willpower to overcome the challenges, because as His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said: ‘we do not have problems, we have challenges,” Dr Varma said.
He added: “If I had to see a patient, never once did I feel unsafe because we were provided with ample amounts of PPE (personal protective equipment) and N95 masks. The management, faculty and my colleagues were absolute professionals who maintained a high standard of care for all patients.”
Will continue to serve
Dr Varma, who finished his medical degree in India two years ago, followed in the footsteps of his parents who are both doctors in Dubai. His father, Dr Girishchandra Varma, is a consultant cardiothoracic surgeon at NMC Specialty Hospital; and mother, Dr Aruna Varma, is an anaesthesiologist at Mediclinic Parkview Hospital.
When the pandemic is over, Dr Varma said he will resume his post graduate programme in Orthopaedic surgery in the UK and vowed to return home to the UAE to continue to serve the country he calls home.