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Doctor treating coronavirus patients on the frontline dies in his husbands arms just a week after showing symptoms

Vic Parsons April 2, 2020

Dr. Frank Gabrin died in his husband's arms just a week after showing coronavirus symptoms. He'd been reusing personal protective equipment between patients due to shortages. (Screenshot/YouTube)

Two days ago, an emergency-room doctor called Frank Gabrin died in his husband’s arms due to complications from coronavirus – just a week after showing symptoms.

Gabrin, 60, who worked at hospitals in New Jersey and New York, had been on the frontlines for two weeks as the number of COVID-19 cases rapidly increased.

According to Gabrin’s husband, Arnold Vargas, shortages of personal protective equipment had meant he was forced to reuse face masks and hospital gowns between treating patients.

“He was a person who just wanted to help people,” Vargas told Chris Cuomo, who also tested positive for COVID-19 this week, during an emotional interview on CNN’s ‘Cuomo Prime Time’.

Gabrin died suddenly on Tuesday after waking up with chest pains and unable to breathe.

“He had a lot of coughing and two days ago he was very sick,” Vargas said through tears.

On Tuesday, Gabrin woke up saying, “Baby, I can’t breathe,” Vargas said.

He had first shown symptoms about a week previously, but had not been tested for the virus.

Vargas was speaking on the programme, along with Gabrin’s friend Debra Lyons, in an attempt to not let his husband’s death be in vain.

Both of them urged Americans to support efforts to get more personal protective equipment to healthcare workers who are on the frontline of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

The global death toll from the crisis currently stands at more than 50,000 people, with Spain accounting for a fifth of those who have died from the disease.

Lyons said: “He didn’t expect this to happen as it was coming up. He really didn’t. He was working hard, we were talking every day.

“I was saying, ‘How is it going?’ He said, ‘It’s busy, but it’s manageable.’

“And it went from manageable to unmanageable overnight. I think that’s what happened, and even then he looked for ways to make it work, even when he knew [his immune system] was compromised.”

A two-time cancer survivor, Vargas said his husband told him: “I can handle this. I survived cancer and this is just the coronavirus.”

After holding his husband while he died, Vargas is now showing symptoms of coronavirus himself.

“It’s a big thing we’re asking [health care workers] to face,” Lyons said.

“It’s like asking soldiers to go to the front line and giving them nothing to do their job.”

More: Coronavirus, COVID-19, personal protective equipment

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