The news of the first Cuban doctor who contracted shocked the island. Dr. Felix Baez Sarria, 43, is now treated with the best resources at the University Hospital of Geneva, Switzerland. But for some people the news was particularly shocking, but always knew the danger they faced: his family.
OnCuba came to his mother’s house to talk to his older brother on his mother side, Michel Gutierrez Sarria, knowing the sensitivity of the issue.
And how did you hear about the contagion of Felix?
His wife was the one who called me when she learned of the problem. She has direct communication with him, they have spoken on the phone.
No, not yet. But she always calls me when she speaks with him or knows anything from there. I always have Radio Reloj on and I do not miss the news. Today I have not heard from him, but you know that bad news travels fast, so everything must be equal. I also see the channel 15 with Telesur and read the headlines they place below.
What do the neighbors, acquaintances, friends say?
In the neighborhood every day they tell me not to worry, that everything will be fine, even someone invited me to lunch to not spend so much time alone. Yesterday I had a visit from my brother’s medical colleagues, concerned for my mood. Also the Association of Combatants came… The phone keeps ringing, every five minutes someone calls to learn about him, any news or for support. Unfortunately not all calls are for that because I already had a nasty encounter with the press.
The problem is that in these cases the press becomes very sensationalist and can sometimes distort what you say. Here CNN came and talked with me, they were very professional and respected my time and my desire to not go into videos and photos. But the AP correspondent was very insistent, even though I said I did not want to provide further comment at this time. I know this is his job, but journalists have to understand that this is a very sensitive situation for the family. Also came here with camera, even though I explained that he should not. It was harassment. I told him some of my published statements saying that my brother had contracted it because he was not suited up and went to help a person. But that’s a mistake I made to tell, because it was just a comment, a rumor that reached me. Then I learned that my brother actually said that not even he knew how he could become infested. Anyway, some people want to play politics with everything, without regard to the pain of others
What’s the latest you have received from there?
So far so good. He lost little appetite but has had no fever. I had the opportunity to speak with Jorge Perez, director of the IPK, and mentioned that my brother told him that if he could get out of the disease he would remain in Africa to complete its mission. It is a very positive message, he is always so.
Facebook and social networking has made a big campaign to support your brother, his family and the doctors who are in África…
Well I do not know what Facebook is and I have no internet access, but I feel supported. In the end, the most important thing for me is that my brother is in one of the best hospitals and the best doctors who have treated the disease.
How is Felix, the doctor and the man?
He studied at the Camilitos and then decided on the medical career. He is very good at what he does, not said by me, but by his patients worldwide, by employees of the Military hospital. When the earthquake in Pakistan, he was among the first ones to volunteer. He is also a member of the Henry Reeve Brigade, which is sent to the most urgent missions. Felix is my brother, but I cannot help but mention his qualities as a person. He is an exceptional man. Now he doesn’t live with me, because he got married and went to live with his wife and baby of a year and half. He also has an older son who is 18 and followed his footsteps to study medicine.
Cuba and the world are with Félix Baez
Dr. Ronald Hernandez Torres reflects on his Facebook daily details of the medical team in Liberia. In one of his posts he clarified some doubts about the modes of transmission, following the infection of his colleague Felix Baez.
“… not always when there is an infection is out of negligence of medical or paramedical personnel, as it said in Cuba, AIDS has no face, Ebola does not have it either, we are in a country that mandatorily we have to relate with nationals, many work with us, even though steps have been taken as the daily temperature taking of each of them, there may be cases of Ebola fever free, otherwise, imagine going to a store to buy an item like toothpaste, soap, etc., we know of people who are there who may be sick or not, the outings are limited to the minimum, the discipline is strict, so we minimize the risk and return to homeland, after fighting this disease, “wrote Hernandez Torres.
Hundreds of messages of solidarity with the physician Felix Baez are written daily on social networking and digital media. By #FuerzaFélix and #FélixContigo hashtags, thousands encourage the physician and his colleagues to keep their spirits up.
Especially touching was the message left on Cubasí by Felix Baez eldest son, Alejandro, replicated in various websites and referenced in national print media, radio and television: “My name is Alejandro. I want to thank all those who in one way or another, encourage and give hope to our family and my father. I would also like to acknowledge the health authorities who made my dad started receiving medical attention as soon and moved to Geneva to be treated by all means. I know that everything will be fine in a few months and this will be just a story to tell. Furthermore, I encourage those who are still there doing their beautiful work despite the risk involved and thank you for taking care of my dad while I’m not there, all our hopes are with you. Greetings to all. Dad, be strong, everything will be fine, all Cuba is here waiting for you. ”
Various initiatives come at a time of expectation like this. The journalist Idania Pupo Freyre shared on her Facebook account: “Dear Facebook friends, I propose to make a large chain of support for our brother Dr. Felix Baez Sarria, a specialist in Internal Medicine, a member of the Henry Reeve International Brigade Contingent” who is in Sierra Leone fighting the epidemic of Ebola, who is infected with the deadly virus. Let’s put messages of solidarity and encouragement for his family, we will express our wish that Felix recover and return to the homeland. ”
A community on Facebook called Cuba is with Felix Baez already reached 1180 followers and counting. But not only Cubans living on the island are with the doctor. The Cuban Omar Goya said in a commentary on the digital page of Granma: “I’m Cuban and I live in USA and I was one like a son of our beautiful country to pray and pray for the speedy recovery of Felix, victim of this terrible disease plaguing Africa. Courage Felix, million Cubans from around the world are by your side”
Hooray for Dr. Sarrias. He is healthy enough to walk off the plane himself. He told his brother that he was planning to go back when cured, many survivors hadn’t. There are many survivors who like with Small Pox in the past can work without masks and gloves, this is already happening with a small UN program with sick infants. Others on the medical team could work from the patients as much as possible from a few yards back. The doctors from the private and religious charities are too overwhelmed to change procedure without increased risk during the transmission period.
Maybe hard working local nurses under extreme risk can be sent to Switzerland and with their permission be given Ebola under ideal conditions, and later only survivors working with the newly sick. Thank you Dr. Sarrias for being kinder than you were supposed to be.