'The ultimate sacrifice': Nurse dies after rushing to save coronavirus patient's life

A 61-year-old nurse has died from coronavirus two weeks after she risked her safety to treat a patient with COVID-19.

While working her shift on April 3 at the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Centre in California, Celia Marcos noticed a patient with COVID-19 has stopped breathing. Without hesitation the nurse rushed into the room and began chest compressions as she tried to revive him.

Ms Marcos was only wearing a thin surgical mask as she worked on the patient. Hospital staff told the LA Times she was not given an N95 mask at the start of her shift, as they were in limited supply.

The nurse stayed in the patient’s room for at least 30 minutes while he was resuscitated and eventually placed on a ventilator to help him breathe, before being moved to the ICU.

Nurse dies after rushing to save coronavirus patient's life.
Celia Marcos was only wearing a thin surgical mask as she helped to resuscitate the patient with COVID-19, two weeks later she died from coronavirus. Source: Facebook

Three days later Ms Marcos began feeling unwell and on April 15 she was admitted to the very same hospital she worked at for over 16 years.

She passed away on April 17 after testing positive for COVID-19.

Her son said the family was unable to be with her in her final moments.

“It was definitely heartbreaking… She passed away alone, without family by her side, at least there were coworkers who knew her,” John Marcos told local media station KTLA.

“I want people to remember she’s not just a regular nurse, she went above and beyond and she made the ultimate sacrifice unfortunately,” he added.

In a text message to her niece after the incident, Ms Marcos wrote “I was the one right in front of his face,” and said she was concerned about being infected. She reportedly put hand sanitiser in her hair and showered as soon as she got home.

At least 36 other healthcare workers have died from coronavirus in California since the pandemic began, the LA Times reports.

Speaking anonymously to the LA Times, a nurse and former coworker alleged that Ms Marcos didn’t have access to the PPE that would have been required to protect her.

“The hospital wasn’t giving us appropriate PPE, the N95s were locked,” the nurse said.

A N95 mask (left) and a surgical mask (right)
Nurses at the hospital said staff did not have access to N95 masks (left) which offer more protection than a surgical mask (right). Source: Getty

A statement from the hospital denied the claims, and said the hospital worked according to local and federal guidelines.

Early in the pandemic the CDC recommended that N95 masks were needed for treating all suspected COVID-19 patients, but amid a severe shortage of PPE, they changed to recommending the masks only for high-risk procedures.

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