Lives Lost: Doctor chose to stay, work in war-torn Syria

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Kenan Aljasem

This undated photo provided by his son Kenan Aljasem shows Dr. Adnan Jasem in Albad, Syria. Jasem had every reason to leave war-torn Syria after surviving a bomb blast that broke his legs four years earlier and receiving job offers from abroad. Still, Jasem stayed, committed to treating the people in his homeland. It was no surprise that he would be on the front lines when the first coronavirus cases appeared in northwest Syria this summer. By Sept. 6, 2020, Jasem started feeling ill. Four days later, the 58-year-old was dead. (Kenan Aljasem via AP)

Dr. Adnan Jasem had every reason to leave war-torn Syria after surviving a bomb blast that broke his legs four years ago and receiving job offers from abroad.

Still, Jasem stayed, committed to treating the people in his homeland. It was no surprise that he would be on the front lines when the first coronavirus cases appeared in northwest Syria this summer.

By Sept. 6, Jasem started feeling ill. Four days later, the 58-year-old was dead.

“It’s just so tragic,” said Jasem's cousin, Dr. Ziad Alissa, who lives in Paris.

Alissa called doctors to get Jasem on a ventilator, but it was too late and he died the next day.

“He cared for so many people and saved so many lives, but we couldn't save him," said Alissa, director of the French chapter of the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations, or UOSSM, a group founded by Syrian doctors in 2012 to provide free medical care, equipment and other aid to hospitals and clinics inside Syria.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of an ongoing series of stories remembering people who have died of the coronavirus around the world.