December 28, 2020

Northwest Syria continues to experience an alarming spike in COVID-19 cases. SAMS operates three COVID-19 centers in the area specialized in treating and managing severe cases of the coronavirus. We recently caught up with one of our patients who shared his moving story of how he and his father struggled with the novel coronavirus. Read his story below.


It all started on Saturday, November 21, 2020, when the first symptoms of the COVID-19 began to appear. I began feeling pain in my joints, but it was tolerable enough to carry on with my daily activities as if it were a mundane illness or a regular cold or flu. Soon enough, the joint pain intensified sharply, and I developed other symptoms, including high fever, a constant cough, and a severe urge to drink water at all times to soothe my painfully dry throat. My body started to feel weak all over and it became difficult to move, and I started experiencing mild diarrhea as well. I realized then that these were the early signs of COVID-19, but my symptoms were still rather manageable and I could still move around and carry on with my daily activities outside of my house. The following day, however, my elderly father started displaying the same symptoms, so I immediately took him to the SAMS-supported Al-Atareb Hospital, where the doctor informed us that he needed to undergo some tests and a CT scan to evaluate his condition. 

After my father’s results came back positive for COVID-19, the doctor prescribed him a course of treatment and appropriate medication, recommending that he self-isolate at home until he recovered. When he noticed the similar symptoms that I was experiencing, the doctor advised me to use the same medication and self-quarantine at home as well. 

At home, my symptoms worsened significantly– excessive sweating, chills, and major fluctuations in body temperature, especially in the early morning. For the time being, I resorted to turning on the space heater, but to no avail. The disease brought me to the brink of death, and it was all I could manage to simply lie awake, bedridden. 

I continued on like this until Friday morning of that same week when I went out and sat in front of my house. I hoped that the sunrise would help. My friends and relatives saw that I was outside and asked me how I was feeling. Around that same time, it became extremely difficult for me to breathe, on top of my inability to move, eat, or drink. My entire body was exhausted and I was left in an unbearable state. Upon hearing how sick I was, my neighbors took me to the hospital right away. After undergoing some tests, including a CT scan, it was determined that I urgently needed to go into medical isolation and receive oxygen support, as my condition was rapidly deteriorating. From there we headed to Al-Quds Hospital in search of an isolation center. The staff directed us to the center in Tal Al-Karamah, but it was at capacity. We went to the isolation center in Kafr Karmin instead, where I was admitted and stayed for a day and a half before being transferred to Al-Amal Hospital, one of SAMS’ COVID-19 centers specialized in treating severe cases of the novel coronavirus. There I was swiftly placed in the ICU and went on oxygen support. The doctors worked around the clock to save my life. The suffering was immense. The pain was greater than anything I had experienced before. During my hospitalization, all I could do was to remain patient and resilient. I was in constant communication with my friends, family, and the medical staff for reassurance. 

The day I learned that my father passed away due to complications was the worst day of my life. He was in the very same hospital where I was also fighting for my life, in the same ward, even, and yet I could not see him or say goodbye to him. I couldn’t even attend his funeral. Despite that unimaginable heartache, I persevered and remained determined to overcome my illness. Though I had to go back on ventilation support as my condition deteriorated once again, the only rational thing I could do at that moment was to simply wait and listen to everything my doctors were telling me. I remain ever-mindful and grateful for every one of the many doctors and nurses who followed up on my condition on a daily basis. I remember each of their names. Each of them cared for me wholeheartedly. Their constant psychological support gave me the strength to persevere. In particular, I would like to mention Drs. Tamer Khalasi, Hassan Obeid, and Ali Rahal, and nurses Musa Obeid, Abu Zaid, and Abu Saber. I also thank my sisters, my wife, my cousin Abdul Rahman, and my friends at the civic center, for their enormous support in helping me to bear this burden. 

I remember being at rock bottom with this virus, where even going to the bathroom was the hardest thing I ever had to do. But today, I can stand on my own two feet again, waiting to start a new life, back with my family, friends, and my career. Perhaps this dark period in my life is finally over, and perhaps the sun will rise again tomorrow. I am eternally thankful for everything and everyone that continues to make life worth living.