TRIBUTE TO PANDEMIC HEROES. Dr. Mary Jean Loreche shows her arm after being injected with the CoronaVac vaccine on Thursday (March 4, 2021) in a ceremony at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center. The DOH-7 chief pathologist and Covid-19 spokesperson offered her vaccine jab to her colleagues who have died while responding to the pandemic without the benefit of getting a dose of the vaccine for protection. (PNA photo by John Rey Saavedra)

CEBU CITY – The chief pathologist of the Department of Health (DOH) in Central Visayas has remembered the “fallen heroes” who died while fighting the coronavirus disease (2019) pandemic last year, as she stepped up as among the first healthcare workers who took the China-made CoronaVac jabs in Cebu.

“I want to offer this vaccination that I had yesterday (to my colleagues who died because of Covid-19). I wished they were still alive and they would have been part of this momentous moment,” DOH-7 chief pathologist Dr. Mary Jean Loreche told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an interview Friday.

Loreche, who also is the Covid-19 spokesperson in the region, said she remembered sending blood and convalescent plasma for Dr. Karen Senen, pediatrician-neonatologist of Philippine General Hospital (PGH) in Manila when the latter was admitted for the second time due to coronavirus.

Senen was admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) after contracting Covid-19 while treating other coronavirus-positive patients in Manila.

“I don’t personally know her (Senen) but when she was readmitted the second time and they needed blood and convalescent plasma, I responded and sent to the University of the Philippines-PGH but sadly she didn’t make it,” Loreche said.

In Cebu, a couple who are both well-known physicians here also succumbed to Covid-19.

“It was doubly tragic for the family of Dr. Dennis Ramon Tudtud, one of the eight University of the Philippines alumni who fought and died in the frontlines of the war against the vicious viral adversary. Dr. Tudtud, a prominent Cebu City oncologist, succumb to the virus on March 31, four days after his wife, Dr. Helen Evangelista Tudtud, a pathologist at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC), expired after fighting the virus for 11 days,” an article published at the University of the Philippines’ (UP) website on April 4, 2020 said.

Loreche said she knew personally the Tudtud couple, saying they worked together for the same hospital in Region 10.

Dr. Dennis was a cancer specialist, Loreche said, adding that she handled his patients’ biopsies before treatment. The wife, Dr. Helen was also a pathologist like her.

UP also paid tribute to “eight UP alumni who fell in the frontlines of what has become a global war against the virus”.

“They died alone, with no relatives around to hold their hands as they breathed their last. Some still have to be buried, and others were cremated with no ceremony and no one to bid them goodbye,” the UP article read.

Loreche said she also considered her volunteering to the vaccination roll out to her family which she had not seen for quite a while due to the pandemic.

She also prodded other healthcare workers who refused to be vaccinated with the CoronaVac to remember their colleagues in the profession who died while taking the risk of serving the front-line without the benefit of getting a vaccine.

“And to my children, who patiently waits for my very rare visits in Manila as they understood my super busy work and my avoidance of exposing them to the virus. And to all of our colleagues in the front-lines, our families and countrymen, let’s be vaccinated and help save lives,” she said.

Loreche was among the five officials who took the first dose of CoronaVac in a ceremony at the VSMMC on Thursday.

Dr. Gerardo Aquino Jr., VSMMC’s chief of hospital, led them in the inoculation rollout and was recognized as the first medical front-liner who took the CoronaVac jab in the Visayas and Mindanao.

The doses that Loreche, Aquino, Inter-Agency Task for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) deputy chief implementer Melquiades Feliciano, and two other hospital chiefs were part of the 7,200 doses sent from Manila to Cebu for inoculation of healthcare workers.

The 7,200 doses were taken from the 600,000 doses CoronaVac jabs donated by China to the Philippines. (PNA)