Heroism and self-sacrifice can come in many different forms as a 90-year-old woman in Belgium has shown us. Suzanne Hoylaerts from Binkom, near Lubbeek, Belgium was hospitalized on March 20. The old Belgian tested positive for the coronavirus and was placed in isolation. When it was time to hook her to a medical ventilator for assisted breathing, however, the brave woman refused and said “I had a good life, keep it for the younger ones.”
As the Covid-19 pandemic continues killing people in terrifying numbers across the world, medical ventilators have become a very sought-after commodity for all medical facilities. The reasons for the ventilator crisis are many and quite different as mistakes were made in both current and past political cabinets.
Belgium wasn’t spared from the crisis either. As of April 17, the European country has reported 36,138 cases of Covid-19, 5,163 deaths, and 7,961 recoveries, meaning a 14.3% death rate (39% of all closed cases) and a 22% recovery rate (61% of all 13,124 closed cases).
In that nightmarish situation, medical ventilators have become in short supply for the small country too which explains Suzanne’s heroic sacrifice.
Mrs. Hoylaerts passed away on March 22, two days after her hospitalization. Because she was placed in isolation for the safety of those around her, Suzanne passed away without the comfort of her daughter and loved ones’ presence.
Rightfully lauded as a hero, Suzanne has become a symbol for many people across the world of why it’s so important to stick together and help each other in these trying times (7).
In an interview with the Dutch newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws, Suzanne Hoylaerts’ daughter said: “I can’t say goodbye to her, and I don’t even have a chance to attend her funeral.”
Not being able to say goodbye to your loved ones is a terrible but common practice nowadays as there are lots of restrictions around Covid-19 victims.
Judith Hoylaerts also said that she and her family were baffled that her mother had tested positive for Covid-19 as she had stayed at home and had taken all recommended precautions against the virus. At the time of Suzanne’s death, the Brussels Times newspaper reported that the fatal cases in the country had reached 828 people. Little did they know how this number was going to skyrocket from there.
“[At the time] 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.”