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PHOTO ESSAY: Filipino doctor back helping patients after recovering from coronavirus

Aaron Favila, AP

Posted at May 19 2020 04:10 PM

Anesthesiologist Manuel Sotelo III tries to call his daughter while living alone at their house at San Juan in Metro Manila in this May 9, 2020 photo. Aaron Favila, AP

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Uncertainties over the coronavirus remain, but there have been heartwarming anecdotes too, like the acts of courage and sacrifice of people helping deal with the unprecedented crisis at their life’s peril.

In the Philippines, 41-year-old anesthesiologist Manuel Sotelo III knew the risks but kept working in a hospital in a Manila coronavirus hotspot. He has to live apart from his family as an agonizing safeguard.

As he feared, he got infected. Although he didn’t show any of the dreadful symptoms, death was constantly on his mind and he struggled with isolation in an apartment. At one point while on quarantine, Sotelo recorded a farewell video for his daughter and wife.

“My greatest fear was not seeing nor being able to hold my daughter again,” he said.

After learning that he was free of the virus on April 20, Sotelo waited for days, then met his daughter in a tearful reunion. He donated plasma to help save a COVID-19 patient as an act of thanksgiving.

After the life-threatening experience, Sotelo had no qualms about courting danger again amid a lack of Philippine health personnel fighting infections. He donned layers of protective suits and a face mask to go back to work helping patients.

Anesthesiologist Manuel Sotelo III eats lunch sent by his brother who just celebrated his birthday at San Juan in Metro Manila in this May 9, 2020 photo.Aaron Favila, AP

Sotelo checks his emails while eating lunch sent by his brother who just celebrated his birthday at San Juan in Metro Manila in this May 9, 2020 photo.Aaron Favila, AP

Sotelo reacts as he talks to his 2-year-old daughter via video call as he lives alone at their house at San Juan in Metro Manila in this May 11, 2020 photo.Aaron Favila, AP

Sotelo donates plasma so his antibodies can be transferred to help a COVID-19 patient at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center at San Juan in Metro Manila in this May 7, 2020 photo.Aaron Favila, AP

Sotelo wears a protective suit as they conduct targeted mass testing among residents at Sampaloc district in Metro Manila in this May 8, 2020 photo.Aaron Favila, AP

Sotelo, second from right, talks to a fellow healthcare worker as they conduct targeted mass testing among residents at Sampaloc district in Metro Manila in this May 8, 2020 photo.Aaron Favila, AP