Aggarwal was the sole earning member of the family. He was on Covid duty last year and also since April this year following the surge in infections.

Over the past year, nursing officer at Lok Nayak hospital, Raj Kumar Aggarwal, helped a number of patients recover from Covid — the same virus he succumbed to on Thursday.

The 38-year-old was on ventilator support in his last few hours, said his colleague Kuldeep Gupta (37), also a nursing officer at the hospital. “We all tried our best to help him. He received medicines and all other medical support on time… A few of us colleagues and some of his relatives also went to see him when he was on ventilator support. He just told us, ‘Mujhe bacha lo (please save me)’,” said Gupta.

Aggarwal and his wife tested positive on April 11, following which he was in home isolation for a few days. But when his oxygen levels started dipping, he was moved to the hospital, said Gupta.

His two sons, aged 5 and 7, were taken in by Gupta’s family temporarily while Aggarwal and his wife were in quarantine. “His wife has not been able to come to terms with his death. His children have moved back in with their mother, but they have not been told about what happened. They still think that their father is on Covid duty and in quarantine in a hotel,” said Gupta.

Aggarwal was the sole earning member of the family. He was on Covid duty last year and also since April this year following the surge in infections.

Gupta recounted how Aggarwal had helped with his daughter’s appendix surgery: “The surgery happened during my Covid duty and Rajkumar helped me a lot. Because of his hard work, there was an early diagnosis and the surgery was done… otherwise there could have been a problem.”

Aggarwal was cremated by colleagues and family members, including his parents, who arrived in Delhi from Rajasthan, on Thursday.
A Covid vaccination officer at Lok Nayak Hospital said Aggarwal was not vaccinated. His brother-in-law, Hemendra Gupta (37), said Aggarwal was planning to get the vaccine but there was a delay.

He remembered Aggarwal as a hardworking professional who was willing to go the extra mile for his patients. “He would stay back at the hospital even after his office hours if a patient came in as he was leaving… During Covid duty, he would tell us that if we (healthcare workers) don’t help people, then who will. Even in the building he was staying, if anyone sought medical help from him he was more than willing to help them,” said Hemendra.

He said that on Wednesday afternoon, Aggarwal’s family spoke to him on video call during which he was smiling and had asked to see his sons. “We remarked that he was looking very well that day and he would recover soon. But his condition deteriorated later in the evening and he was put on ventilator support,” said Hemendra. By around 5 am on Thursday, Aggarwal had died.

Kuldeep Gupta said hospital staff are collecting funds to help Aggarwal’s family, and also urged members of the public to help if they can. “We are all doing our best to help people, but we don’t know what will happen to us tomorrow. I don’t know what would happen to me either, but I am still here on duty,” he said.

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