Faces of Covid-19

'My husband couldn't breathe': Sars employee loses Covid-19 battle after 29 days on a ventilator

30 June 2020 - 06:04
By Nivashni Nair
Anton Harman.
Image: Supplied Anton Harman.

For many South Africans, the Covid-19 statistics released each night are numbers. But for a Durban nurse, one of those numbers has a face - a face that she loved for 28 years.

“We look at the numbers on TV and everyone is saying the numbers are not too bad. But until you can humanise that number and put a face to it, one person who gets it and dies is one too many. My husband couldn’t breathe. The machine had to breathe for him for 29 days. He is never coming back,” said Tracy Harman.

Harman’s husband, Anton, an operational specialist trainer at the SA Revenue Service, died on May 21.

Tracy, a nurse at Durban's St Augustine's Hospital, and her daughter tested positive a few days after he did. They did not know where they contracted the virus.

Though their symptoms were mild, Anton's fever wouldn’t break. When he went to hospital on April 22, she told him: “You'll come back to me, OK?”.

The next call she received was to inform her that her husband was placed on a ventilator. On May 8, his oxygen levels dropped and she was “called in”. Dressed in full personal protective equipment, she “sat at the desk and spoke to him. He had a video monitor next to him. I couldn’t hold his hand.”

On May 15, Harman and her daughter, Thea, “pleaded” with her husband to live. “They put the monitor by his ear, we spoke to him and pleaded with him. I told my daughter to say what she needed to say.”

Six days later, he died. Only 20 relatives attended his funeral.

“I am not angry at God and the universe. I am angry at this virus. How dare it take away my husband.”

Anton Harman and his family.
Image: Supplied Anton Harman and his family.