The story of this thirty-five year old was recently published by the newspaper "The Republic", where the doctor says that "although he knew that COVID-19 would have infected him, he still went to Italy".
"I also had a fight with my wife, who didn't want me to take part in this mission, while I didn't say anything to my parents because they would be worried", says this surgeon born in Tirana 35 years ago, one of the 30 doctors sent by the Albanian government to Lombardy in late March.
The newspaper then refers to a statement by Prime Minister Rama and says that "small" Albania ran to save Italy. As for Rama's words, the newspaper quotes "we are not rich, but neither are we without memory and we will not forget who helped us".
Got off in Rome, then transferred by military plane to Verona and from there to the hospital in Brescia, Ermal describes the situation as follows: “When I got to the ICU there were 60 beds, all occupied. Two or three patients died every day. The Italian pulmonologist, whose team I joined, had tested positive a few hours after my arrival, although he had always worn the mask. Then I realized how insidious the coronavirus was and I started to worry. Starting from Tirana, I thought that during my stay in Italy I would quit smoking, but, from the first day, I doubled the number of cigarettes "
Ermal says that before leaving for Italy he had seen the situation on TV, but the reality was different.
"No news on television could convey the atmosphere that was felt in the hospital wards. After a few days, I started getting used to it and managed to manage the stress"He adds.
The Albanian doctor says that the hospitality of his Italian colleagues has been exceptional, as they have welcomed him generously.
As for me, I tried to make myself as useful as possible, for example the availability for shifts. "Also because of the fact that I lived in a hotel and, unlike Italian doctors, I didn't have a family to go back to after work," says Ermal.
But they were the patients with whom Pashaj had established the best relationships.
“I felt great pain for those who feared having been abandoned by their families, because nobody could go to see them. In the evening I called their relatives to inform them about the health of the sick. I will always remember one of them who said "doctor, do everything possible to save my father because yesterday I buried my mother".
Since that tragedy, he confesses that he has learned a lot.
“As a young doctor, for the first time I understood the Hippocratic oath and what it means to help those in need, without any conditions. That's why I consider myself very lucky to have lived this experience, "says Ermal.
Pashaj also says that he will retain the authoritativeness of the head of the infectious diseases department, Professor Francesco Castelli, whom he defines as "a simple and humble man, without watches or designer shoes" and of whom everyone had a great admiration.
"He was a model and I'd like to look like them, maybe after 20 years," says Ermal
Ermali, however, has a regret: the last day before leaving for Albania, where together with other colleagues they were accused of disturbing public peace.
"It was a farce. Eight of us were in a room celebrating with some beer, happily after a month of tiring work. 12 policemen have arrived. I introduced myself as the group manager because I was the oldest and I told them that we all just got tested and tested negative. The police, however, reported us for disturbing public peace. Unfortunately, it did not end there. When we returned to Albania, we ended up under "lynching" for what happened. It is said that we Albanians always lose in extra time. This is what happened to us "
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