A father and son in Hialeah, Florida, died within weeks of each other after they were both hospitalized with COVID-19 in June, the Miami Herald reported on Tuesday.
Dr Jorge A. Vallejo died on June 27. The 89-year-old retired obstetrician and gynaecologist had been hospitalized with COVID-19 at Palmetto General Hospital since Father’s Day on June 21, the Herald reported.
His son, Dr Carlos Vallejo, 57, died five weeks later, on August 1, after spending 42 days in the intensive-care unit at the Cleveland Clinic Florida. Before he fell ill, he had been caring for nearly 80 coronavirus patients, including many at nursing homes, his family told the Herald.
“He was a hero to so many people. I didn’t want him to go to the nursing home and the hospital, and I was afraid,” said Gisselle Vallejo, Carlos’ aunt, to the Herald. “He tried to be faithful. It was because it was open to them 24/7. He was the real definition of a hero. I realized that when COVID began, he was going to be a hero.”
His family told the newspaper that he took all the necessary precautions in treating his patients to avoid contracting the coronavirus.
“He was just my role model. I could talk to him every day for hours,” Kevin Vallejo, Carlos’ son, told the Herald. “He was such a giving doctor that if his patients were going through a hard time … he would see them for free and tell them not to worry about it.”
Jessica Vallejo, Carlos’ niece and Jorge’s granddaughter, told the Herald that she felt she had lost “both of our anchors of our entire family.” Jessica, a reporter at a Miami CBS affiliate, described her grandfather, who fled Cuba with his wife and first two sons in 1965, the “American Dream.”
Jorge worked as an OB-GYN until his wife, Gisela, died in 2005, the Herald said. The couple had three sons. In 1992, Jorge made headlines for delivering a baby who tied the record for the smallest baby born in the US, the Herald reported.
Carlos was a board director at Palmetto General Hospital and led medical teams at three nursing homes in Florida, his wife told the newspaper, adding that Carlos was close with his father and cared for him.
The Vallejo family told the Herald that five members of their family infected with COVID-19.
As of Wednesday, Florida had at least 550,901 confirmed COVID-19 cases and at least 8,765 deaths, according to data from the Florida Department of Health.