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Family’s hell at bird flu deathbed

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Hold up! Before you read on, please read this...

This post was published more than 13 years ago

I keep old posts on the site because I often enjoy reading old content on other people's sites. Not everything that is old is bad. It can be interesting to see how views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have mellowed and matured.

But given the age of this post, please bear in mind:

  • My views might very well have changed in the 13 years since I wrote this post. I have written some very silly things over the years, many of which I find pretty embarrassing today.
  • This post might use language in ways which I would now consider highly inappropriate or offensive.
  • Factual information might be outdated.
  • Links might be broken; embedded material might not appear properly.

Okay. Consider yourself duly warned. Read on...

Nguyen Thi Ngoan grasps the surgical mask closer to her mouth, stifling a sob. In a nearby hospital bed, behind a door marked ‘quarantine’, her younger brother lies prostrate, his feet curled up in agony as he struggles for breath. The only thing keeping him alive is the hose leading from his mouth to a ventilator.

‘The doctors told us he had bird flu on Friday,’ Thi said yesterday. ‘We are really scared because we know it is a very serious disease. He has pains in his chest and his back. Every now and then he asks me to give him a massage. We are praying he will recover.’

Unfortunately, doctors in Hanoi’s tropical diseases institute do not expect Sy Tuan, 21 – the eighteenth person to be infected with the deadly bird flu virus in Vietnam this year – to live through the weekend.

That is not the worst of it, however. In the bed beside him, observing his death throes, lies his 14-year-old sister, Nhung. The day after he was transferred to Hanoi from a hospital near their home in Thaih Binh province, 100 miles south-east of the capital, she succumbed to a high fever and has joined him in quarantine.

Now imagine this millions of times over. Only the hospital services won’t be able to cope, so people will be dying at home, struggling in agony for their last breaths without the aid of a ventilator.

It’s a horrific image, but if (when?) the next bird ‘flu pandemic hits, it could well become reality. And it’s looking increasingly likely that it may happen sooner rather than later.

This 397th post was filed under: News and Comment.

More posts worth reading

What I’ve been reading this month (published 3rd May 2018)

What I’ve been reading this month (published 1st April 2018)

World TB Day (published 24th March 2018)

What I’ve been reading this month (published 6th February 2017)

Murderous Santa in Christmas decorations shock (published 14th December 2005)

Script writers needed (published 17th January 2006)

The Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown) (published 14th January 2005)


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