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'My dream was to work with my father' - daughter hails hero Covid doctor dad

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Dr Syed Waqqar Ali

Dr Syed Waqqar Ali

PA

Dr Syed Waqqar Ali

The daughter of the doctor who died after contracting Covid-19 has told how it was her dream to work alongside her "hero" and now she will keep her father's legacy alive.

Dr Samar Fatima said her father, Dr Syed Waqqar Ali, had dedicated his life to helping the sick and had now "lost his life to his profession".

The heartbroken colleagues of the A&E doctor will hold a minute's silence in honour of him today.

Dr Ali, a father-of-five originally from Pakistan but living in Tyrelstown, worked as a trusted locum doctor in a number of Dublin hospitals.

He succumbed to the virus after a three-month battle in the intensive care unit of the Mater Hospital.

Speaking to RTE News, his eldest daughter, who recently qualified as a doctor herself, said: "Our father has been incredibly selfless, not only through the pandemic but through his whole life.

Brave

"He's been the best dad that we could have ever asked for. It's been a very difficult time for our family. He has been incredibly brave and he has pushed through.

"The last three months have been incredibly difficult. There is no word for the battle he was fighting every day and the battle that my father has been fighting 24/7 for the past three months.

"Although he was not able to speak, he was still communicating with us, and we were making plans for when he would come home and what we would do."

She said she hopes to continue his legacy helping others.

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The Mater Hospital in Dublin

The Mater Hospital in Dublin

Colin Keegan

The Mater Hospital in Dublin

"My dream was to work with my father. He told me that he'd guide me and we were supposed to work together," she said.

"But he's been incredibly dedicated to his profession and he lost his life to his profession.

"But there's still a Dr Ali and I'm going to do my best to follow in his footsteps and keep his legacy alive."

Dr Ali had worked in the Mater Hospital, as well as in Tallaght Hospital and in Beaumont Hospital.

He felt unwell after reporting for a shift at the Mater in Dublin in April and was diagnosed with the virus.

He fought a three-month battle in intensive care but became the eighth healthcare worker to die of the virus here.

In a statement, the Mater Hospital described him as a "frontline healthcare worker who provided selfless emergency care to Covid-19 patients at a number of hospitals as a locum during this emergency pandemic".

His colleagues remember him as a hard-working and diligent doctor with a humble and down-to-earth personality.

He leaves behind five children, his wife Rubab and his mother.

"I am deeply saddened to hear today of the death of Dr Syed Waqqar Ali. I want to express my sincere condolences to Dr Ali's family, his friends and his colleagues," Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said.

"Dr Ali contracted Covid-19 and has been cared for diligently by his colleagues in the ICU of the Mater Hospital for some time.

"It's clear from Dr Ali's colleagues that he was a kind, compassionate, hard-working and highly professional man, working on the frontline of Covid-19 to keep us all safe.

"We remember that behind every reported Covid-19 number is a person who loves and is loved, who leaves behind a family and a community who will miss them sorely.

"Today we remember Dr Ali and the seven other healthcare workers who have lost their lives to Covid-19."

Staff of Beaumont Hospital said they had lost a true hero.

"Dr Waqqar dedicated his professional life to emergency medicine, selflessly putting himself at the frontline in our fight against Covid-19," they said. "His friends and colleagues in Beaumont Hospital remember him for his clinical diligence, as well as his kind and gentle manner.

"He will be greatly missed by his colleagues in the emergency department where he regularly worked for the past seven years."

Paul Reid, chief executive of the HSE, said yesterday that it is with great sadness that he learned of the passing of Dr Ali in the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, following a long illness from Covid-19.

"In common with his colleagues, I know he worked diligently and selflessly to care for patients at all times, and particularly during the pandemic," he said.

"I wish to extend the sympathy of all in the HSE, and all healthcare staff, to his wife, family and loved ones at this very sad time. My thoughts are also with all of his colleagues."

Mourning

The Irish Hospital Consultants Association said the hospital community was in mourning at the untimely passing of their colleague and friend.

In a statement it said his death "reminds us once more of the sacrifices made by frontline healthcare professionals, particularly at this time".

It described him as an "exemplary medical professional with an immense dedication to public service".

"His expertise, care and warmth made an impression with patients and colleagues alike," it added.

Earlier this week the Oireachtas Committee on Covid Response was told that as of mid-July there were 8,347 cases of Covid-19 infection among healthcare workers, which is 32pc of overall cases.