An ER doctor dies in his husband's arms a week after first coronavirus symptoms

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CNN's Chris Cuomo speaks with the husband and a friend of Dr. Frank Gabrin, an ER doctor who died within a week of contracting coronavirus after treating patients.

Posted: Apr 2, 2020 3:47 AM
Updated: Apr 2, 2020 9:15 AM


New Jersey emergency room doctor Frank Gabrin knew he could contract coronavirus when he walked into work to treat patients.

But still he continued, and about a week after contracting the virus Gabrin died in his husband's arms Tuesday. His loss is a lesson on the importance of caring for the people who are caring for the public, his friend Debra Vaselech Lyons told CNN's Chris Cuomo on Cuomo Prime Time.

'It's not about the outcome, you don't get to save every patient, but it's about what you do with the outcome,' Vaselech Lyons said Gabrin believed. 'He lost his life needlessly because if he'd had the equipment -- he's a professional, he knew how to protect himself.'

'We need to make something good come from this,' she said.

Gabrin's husband, Arnold Vargas, spoke alongside Vaselech Lyon's about the loss of his husband but could barely make out the words through his tears.

The two-time cancer survivor tried to make the best of things when coronavirus struck, but Vaselech Lyons said, 'it went from manageable to unmanageable overnight.'

He contracted the virus, and about a week later died in Vargas's arms. Paramedics worked for an hour to save him, but he was already gone, Vaselech Lyons said.

He knew he was putting himself in a dangerous position going into work, but he -- like other medical professionals -- prepared his whole life to be on the frontlines and helping people.

What he didn't expect was to be on the frontlines without the equipment he needed.

'It's like asking a soldier to go to the frontline and giving them nothing. Nothing to do their job,' Vaselech Lyons said.

Doctors, nurses and other medical staff across the nation are facing shortages of personal protective equipment, like masks and gloves. Many are having to reuse items considered single-use. Not only does the shortage make it difficult to protect themselves, but many states are reporting shortages of ventilators and hospital beds needed to treat their patients.

Now, Gabrin's husband is mourning his loss while suffering from the virus, too.

'I don't think we are seeing that we have selfish healthcare workers right now, they're doing what they can even though they are putting themselves and most importantly their families at risk as well,' Vaselech Lyons said.

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