'Cardiology pillar' succumbs to COVID-19: peers

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 24 2020 10:33 AM | Updated as of Mar 24 2020 01:03 PM

MANILA - A local "pillar" of cardiology has succumbed to the novel coronavirus, his peers said Tuesday, as cases of the pandemic continued to increase in the Philippines. 

The Philippine Heart Association announced on Facebook the demise of Dr. Raul Jara, its former president and "one of the great pillars of cardiology".

Asked to clarify if the doctor died to COVID-19, the group said, "yes" and that it would be best to get more details from the Philippine Heart Center, which treated him.

He had tested positive for the respiratory disease, PHC medical director Dr. Joel Abanilla told ABS-CBN News. It was not immediately clear when Jara passed away and whether he had other pre-existing medical conditions. 

Jara is the latest Filipino doctor to reportedly succumb to COVID-19, following Dr. Israel Bactol of the PHC and anesthesiologist Dr. Gregory Macasaet. The health department has yet to confirm how many doctors have died due to the pandemic. 

Jara "spent his life teaching" and "never got tired to impart knowledge and wisdom", said the PHA.

Describing Jara as a "great" father, poet and singer, the PHA said the doctor "made you sweat as he bombards you with questions but would suddenly make you feel at ease as he breaks into a smile."

The post was accompanied by what appeared to be a statement from Jara's family, who said he "took pride in serving the Filipino people" and treated his students "as his children and the hope for future generations." 

"His memory is not defined by how he died but how he lived," read the statement.

"We were with him every step of the way and he would remain with us throughout. We must be strong. We must live on. We must persevere. Go with a steady heart," it added. 

Jara is survived by his wife and 5 children, according to the statement. 

The Philippines as of Tuesday confirmed 501 cases of the pandemic, including 33 deaths and 19 patients who recovered. 

With reports from Jamaine Punzalan and Sofia Regalado, ABS-CBN News