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90-year-old woman dies after refusing a ventilator: 'Save it for the younger patients'

She was hospitalized on March 20 when her health rapidly deteriorated. She was placed in isolation after she tested positive for the virus.

90-year-old woman dies after refusing a ventilator: 'Save it for the younger patients'
Image Source: Getty Images (representative)

The Coronavirus pandemic has pushed healthcare systems of even the most developed nations to a breaking point. After China, the world watched, as Italy scrambled to get a handle on the outbreak with an overwhelming number of cases towering over an unanticipated shortage of resources. Now that other nations, including the United States, have begun experiencing the brunt of the pandemic, they've also been struggling to provide an put together an adequate supply of emergency resources such as ventilators and personal protection equipment. Officials already fear a scenario where they might have to choose who receives emergency care based on their chances of survival.


Meanwhile, a 90-year-old in Belgium who'd tested positive for the novel Coronavirus recently passed away after refusing a ventilator. The elderly Belgian woman had instead instructed her doctors to allow the machine to younger patients. According to Daily Mail, Suzanne Hoylaerts from Binkom, near Lubbeek, was hospitalized on March 20 when her health rapidly deteriorated after being infected with the deadly virus. She was in need of medical attention after suffering from a lack of appetite and shortness of breath caused by the respiratory disease.


At the hospital, Hoylaerts tested positive for the virus and was placed in isolation. Despite her deteriorating health, she told doctors that she does not want a ventilator. "I don't want to use artificial respiration. Save it for younger patients. I already had a good life," she reportedly said. Hoylaerts passed away on March 22, two days after being checked into the hospital. She passed away without the comfort of her loved ones by her side as she'd been placed in isolation to avoid infecting others. Hoylaerts' daughter Judith was, therefore, unable to visit her mother at the hospital or even pay final respects following her death.


Speaking to Dutch newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws, the distraught daughter said: "I can't say goodbye to her, and I don't even have a chance to attend her funeral." Judith revealed that her family is utterly baffled by her mother testing positive for the virus as they couldn't imagine how she would've contracted the infection since she had stayed at home and was complying carefully with lockdown measures. According to The Brussels Times, as of Tuesday, the total number of deaths in Belgium since the beginning of the pandemic had reached 828.


"93% of these people were over 65 years old,” said professor Steven Van Gucht, a spokesperson for the National Crisis Centre. "The number of deaths keeps increasing. The death toll is high, and every deadly victim is one too many. We would like to express our support, and we realize that the families and friends affected will have to say their goodbyes and mourn in very difficult circumstances."


On Monday, the nation was jolted by the death of a 12-year-old Coronavirus patient. A spokeswoman for the Belgian Health ministry confirmed the news to CNN, refusing to provide any further details about the child to respect the privacy of the family. Emmanuel André, the Belgian government's spokesperson for the fight against coronavirus, was visibly upset when speaking to local media about the case, saying: "This is an emotionally difficult moment because it affects a child and it also affects the medical and scientific community. We are especially thinking of her family and loved ones." André added that the child's death is a "very rare event that upsets us."


Disclaimer: Information about COVID-19 is swiftly changing, and Upworthy is committed to providing the most recent and verified updates in our articles and reportage. However, considering the frequency in developments, some of the information/data in this article may have changed since the time of publication. Therefore, we encourage you to also regularly check online resources from local public health departments, the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization.

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