Like all the front liners continuing to care for suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients, Dr. Gregorio “Greg” Macasaet III is a hero.
“For those of us who were fortunate enough to get to know and interact with him, we got the privilege of knowing one of the kindest, selfless and most genuine human beings we will ever get to meet,” wrote his godchild Aboy Paraiso in a Facebook post.
Macasaet, an anesthesiologist at the Manila Doctors Hospital, died on March 22 after battling COVID-19. His wife, Dr. Evalyn Talens, an anesthesiologist as well, is also in the hospital after having gotten ill from the virus.
“If you know Ninong Greg, then like me you wouldn’t be surprised on how everything unfolded,” wrote Paraiso. “Even his death speaks to the character of the man and his family. As he recounted to me, he and Ateng chose to stay when most of their colleagues chose to keep themselves safe and did not report for work. This despite having an only son with special needs. THEY CHOSE TO STAY, stay at their post, stay beside their patients, stay true to their oath and calling as doctors sacrificing themselves and their family. And now Kuya Greg has made the ultimate sacrifice of life, not because he was forced or obliged to do so, but because of his dedication to his craft and his constant devotion to be of service to others.”
Weak and painful
While in isolation, Macasaet continued to connect with family and friends using his phone.
He told Paraiso through text messages about his experience with the dreaded virus. “Ateng Evalyn and I are in separate isolation rooms with no visual communication… It started several days ago when I experienced very high grade fever followed by a really bad cough… As the hours pass, you will experience a really terrible headache and your entire body will be very weak and painful! You will lose your appetite and taste but it is important you consume fluids, nutrients and specialty medications… The feeling you will experience is really very very bad!”
He ended his message to his godchild with, “Best wishes KUYA Aboy! May you have a long and happy life as blessed as mine.”
Paraiso wrote, “In Kuyang Greg everyone has lost someone today, I have lost a confidant, mentor and my Ninong, his friends have lost a kind and compassionate person they can always rely on, the Medical world has lost one of its best anesthesiologist, his Family has lost a son, a brother, a relative who was always there for them, us Freemason have lost a worthy brother whose examples are worth emulating. Ateng Evalyn and OUR son Raymond have lost a devoted husband and a very loving father. Our country has lost a genuine Hero and the world has lost one of the most kind, selfless human beings that would ever walk its surface. WE ALL LOST TODAY, and I grieve for all of you and I grieve with all of you.”
In one of Macasaet’s final messages to friends and family members from the ICU, he said, “The turn of events is just no longer going in my favor. The feeling you get, aside from extreme pains all over, difficulty of breathing and as if all life is being sucked from your body! They will be putting cutdown lines and central tubes on me anytime soon! If they intubate me and place me on ventilator, then the game is almost over!”
He talks about his dreams for his wife and son Raymond, who has special needs. “If Ateng survives, then my wish for her and Raymond for a long and happy life will bear fruition! Raymond however needs financial and emotional care for the rest of his life! Something I may no longer be able to fulfill! It Is my fervent hope that all of you may assist the rest of my family in our most difficult times!”
Macasaet is one of three doctors who have died from COVID-19. A number of other health workers are currently being treated for COVID-19.
Manila Doctors Hospital said in a statement, “He was one of the best anaesthesiologists in our country and one of the first responders to a patient who eventually died of COVID-19… We honor a brave man who lost his life in this war. He lost his life in the service of the Filipino people and our country. We salute you, Dr. Greg Macasaet, you are our fallen hero.”