Turkey hospital sees hope as 93-year-old virus patient discharged

ISTANBUL (AFP) – Cheered by her doctors, 93-year-old Alye Gunduz was discharged from an Istanbul hospital after recovering from the novel coronavirus following 10 days of treatment.

Her recovery from the disease that is killing chiefly the old offered some hope to health workers at Istanbul’s Cerrahpasa Medical Faculty hospital as they battle the outbreak, which risks hitting Turkey hard.

“It is promising because patients at this age and with chronic diseases are most of the time unable to recover because they are at highest risk from COVID-19,” chief physician Zekayi Kutlubay told AFP.

“A 93-year-old woman walking out of intensive care sound and safe is inspiring for us as well as for other coronavirus patients at her age.”

Suffering from hypertension, Gunduz, a farmer from Turkey’s southeastern city of Batman, was taken to hospital on March 31 with complaints of a high fever and stomachache. She was discharged on Friday.

“I wish a speedy recovery to everyone,” the elderly woman said as she was helped by her grandson.

Medical staff cheer as Alye Gunduz is escorted to be discharged from the Istanbul University Cerrahpasa Medical Faculty Hospital. PHOTO: AFP

Turkey has registered more than 47,000 COVID-19 cases – ranking it among the 10 most infected countries in the world. It has recorded over a thousand deaths and the disease is spreading fast.

Facing a growing number of cases each day, Turkish health workers have been working day and night to treat patients.

One doctor has died and more than 600 health workers have been infected so far.

“Everyone is working arduously as if they are at war,” Rector of Cerrahpasa Medical Faculty of Istanbul University Nuri Aydin told AFP at the hospital.

“The ambiance here is like it’s not a workplace but rather a battlefield.”

Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city of about 15 million people, has emerged as the country’s virus epicentre with more than 60 per cent of the nationwide cases.

The Cerrahpasa Medical Faculty has responded fast since the outbreak in mid-March, turning its operating theatres into intensive care units and creating special COVID-19 sections – separating ordinary patients from others infected with the deadly disease.

The physicians are currently treating 210 patients with 30 others in intensive care. One building has been allocated to treat only medical workers.

Isolated from their own families, some of the health workers stay in dorms or hotels to avoid spreading the disease to their loved ones.

“It’s hard to put into words. They are making a superhuman effort,” Aydin said.

“There is no price to the service provided by health workers. They serve the humanity.”

Physician Associate Furkan Kurthas been away from his parents for four weeks while he lives in a rented flat.

“We are taking all the protective measures but it is not guaranteed that we will not get infected,” he said.

“The only hope we have is the beautiful days we will see. Being hopeful: there is nothing else we can do.”