A leading British-Pakistani cancer specialist, hailing from Lahore, has lost his life to COVID-19 while working on the frontline fighting the deadly coronavirus in the United Kingdom.
Dr Tariq Shafi was 61, completely healthy and had no previous history of any ailment. The former King Edward’s Medical College graduate came to the UK in 2007 with his wife Varda Tariq Shafi, and children.
Family and friends have described Dr Tariq Shafi as a noble doctor and a good man who cared deeply for his patients and continued to look after his cancer patients until the time he was hospitalised.
Dr Shafi’s family called him a martyr (shaheed) who died while fighting COVID-19 to save others and believed that his life was dedicated to treating needy and sick.
Dr Tariq Shafi, originally from Lahore, worked as a Consultant Haematologist at Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford, Kent – just outside of London. His friends described him as amongst the finest doctor.
“Tariq passed away in the blessed month of Ramadan in line of duty. Even after he had developed symptoms of corona and isolated at home, he continued to do telephone clinics,” his wife Varda said.
Dr Tariq Shafi left Pakistan for the UK in 1988, where he worked as a registrar. He then moved to Saudi Arabia in 1994 where he worked in the Military Hospital Riyadh till 2007.
He returned to the UK in April 2007 as a Consultant Haematologist at Darent Valley Hospital. He never lost touch with Pakistan and helped young Pakistani doctors to come to the UK for further training.
He also went back regularly and gave his time at Shaukat Khanum Lahore, Services Hospital Lahore and other cancer centres. Dr Shafi’s son Taimur is a doctor, daughter Meeral is a radiographer and Umar is a dentist.
After the corona outbreak in Britain, Dr Tariq Shafi continued to work at his hospital on daily basis. Dr Shafi convinced the authorities to let his ward continue to operate as a cancer centre to ensure care for patients.
On 2nd April, Shafi developed corona symptoms with mild throat pain and fever. For the next one week, he held telephone clinics over the phone from his home and continued to work non-stop.
A week later, he became breathless while still working with his patients over the phone. “We asked Baba (Shafi) to stop but he said there was no one else to look after his sick patients at such short notice,” his son said.
On 9th of April, Dr Shafi was admitted in the same hospital where he worked and was admitted in the Intensive Care Unit on 12th April. His health unfortunately deteriorated and he was ventilated.
He subsequently was taken to St Thomas Hospital in Central London on 24th April. On the afternoon of 6th May, Shafi passed away despite the best efforts of some of the best doctors in the country to save him.
7th British-Pakistani doctor to die from virus
Taimur Tariq Shafi said his father received the best treatment locally and in St Thomas Hospital and there’s nothing more the National Health Service (NHS) staff could have done to save him.
Shafi becomes the seventh Pakistani NHS professional to lose life to COVID-19. Other who have died in the last two months are Dr Habib Zaidi, Dr Furqan Ali Siddiqui, Dr Maimoona Rana, Dr Nasir Khan, Dr Syed Zeeshan Haider and nurse Areema Nasreen.
Minority communities in the UK have been disproportionately affected by the viral COVID-19 virus, according to various studies and reports. An earlier analysis by the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) suggested that British Pakistan’s are 2.5 times more likely to die from COVID-19.—Agencies