A doctor couple from Northern Italy have had to forget about their wedding plans as they bravely continue treating coronavirus patients.
Roberto Tonelli and his fiancé, Ivana Castaniere are both pulmonologists – lung specialists who work at the same hospital in Modena.
“We first met in the hospital, Tonelli told Time, “she was my boss!”
Castaniere meanwhile joked that when they first met, she “didn’t like him that much,” as he was a “know-it-all nerd.”
However, Tonelli ended up winning his boss over, and they had been engaged to be married in September.
But now instead of thinking about wedding plans, the doctor couple have been working 6 days a week and at least 14 hours a shift in a country which has recorded the most coronavirus deaths.
As of Wednesday (16H15 GMT), a shocking 12 428 people in Italy had succumbed to the COVID-19 disease. There are currently more than 105 000 confirmed cases.
“The worst part of this is that you don’t want the person you love to see what you’re seeing,” Tonelli said. “But at least her face is the first thing I see when I remove my PPE.”
“I hope she’ll understand”
Not only have the heroic doctors put aside their wedding, but they have also had to go without seeing their daughter for a month.
The two year-old is staying with her grandparents.
“I hope that when she grows up, she’ll consider us her heroes,” says Castaniere.”I hope she’ll understand.”
At the frontline of the battle, healthcare workers are in grave danger and a more than 60 Italian doctors have already lost their lives. As of Monday, more than 9000 healthcare workers in Italy had tested positive for the virus.
The couple spoke of the hardships they are facing every day. Castaniere mentioned two brothers who arrived together, both positive. And she spoke about a 13-year-old girl who was hospitalized before her father was admitted into the ICU a few days later.
And because patients are isolated from their families – no visitors are allowed – the healthcare workers have to try and comfort patients as best they can.
“They ask me, will I die?” Tonelli said. “I never lie to my patients. I tell them, ‘we’re fighting this together.’”