Months into the pandemic’s grasp, Mumbai remains one of the worst-affected cities in India by COVID-19, with over 60,000 current cases overrunning hospitals. Staff and facilities are overwhelmed, their workload far greater than they have supplies, time, space, or stamina for.
Shahnawaz Shaikh is not a doctor or an EMT, just a businessman. But for months, he’s been servicing as a pro-tem ambulance driver, ferrying potential COVID-19 patients in his cherished SUV to hospitals. It has been a selfless act of service – due to the risk of contagion, Shaikh has partitioned his house so that he doesn’t stand a chance of catching the disease from a passenger and passing it on to his wife and young daughter.
On May 28, the sister of Shaikh’s business partner passed away in a cab after being turned away from five overburdened hospitals because they had no beds or ventilators left to tend to the seriously ill. She was six months pregnant, and she drowned in plain air in her husband’s arms.
Doctor friends told Shaikh that the woman could have lived, had she been put on oxygen in time. It made him realize that he could be doing more than simply transporting the poor and ill. A little research showed him that while oxygen canisters were available to the public, high demand had driven up their price and caused a shortage.
“A friend of mine helped me contact a manufacturer directly. They were touched when I told them I wanted to buy cylinders and give them away for free.”
To finance the venture, Shaikh sold his SUV. He bought over 300 refurbished oxygen tanks and the supplies to use them, and enlisted a doctor to help made an instructional video, showing how to use them. So far, he’s provided oxygen kits to over 250 families in the poor districts of the city near him.
Source: Mumbai Mirror
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