“Our hearts are broken to see the images on television of what is happening in India,” said Steve Gupta, founder of the nonprofit Gupta Family Foundation which in an effort to alleviate the growing pressure for equipment whose in great need, 300 oxygen concentrators were purchased and shipped to India. “We want to help… it’s a crisis,” Gupta said.
Gupta said Friday’s expedition would likely be the first in a long series.
“As soon as this shipment arrives in India, we will start the next shipment,” Gupta said.
India reported a new daily record of 414,188 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 3,915 additional deaths on Friday. The official daily tally of deaths has remained above 3,000 over the past 10 days.
This brings the total to more than 21.4 million COVID-19 infections and more than 234,000 deaths. Experts say even these dramatic tolls do not reflect the real numbers, which are likely higher.
Canada is sending medical supplies to help India’s hospital system, including 25,000 vials of remdesivir, an antiviral drug and up to 350 ventilators.
It comes as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi faces increasing pressure to impose a strict nationwide lockdown.
But thousands are already waiting for hospital beds and oxygen. Among other desperately needed supplies: antibiotics, oxygen generators and ventilators.
“They need help now, not in four weeks or five weeks or six months,” Gupta said.
Dr Budhendra Doobay, a surgeon, helped raise funds for the equipment. He’s also trying to ship around $ 25,000 worth of drugs that his Indian colleagues deem essential – but shipping drugs has proven to be much more difficult.
“Because of the drug regulations they have between here and India, it’s very difficult, but we are trying,” he said.
Gupta says that if he and his team can save a few lives, it helps him cope with grief.
“We cannot solve the problem for all of India, for all those who are suffering, but at least we can do our little bit,” he said.
Like Gupta, Dr Tanaya Chatterjee feels helpless as the virus wreaks havoc in his home country.
“I started to feel tremendous guilt. And with that, I felt angry, frustrated, ”she said.
The Toronto psychologist helps patients cope with similar feelings while dealing with her own.
WATCH | Chatterjee talks about dealing with grief, helping others:
Chatterjee’s father, Pronab, who lives in India with the rest of his family, has a weakened heart and other conditions. His sister announced early last week that he had tested positive for COVID-19.
His sister went to several hospitals, begging staff to admit his father. The sixth hospital had a place for it.
But Chatterjee’s sister and mother have since tested positive as well.
Chatterjee says she must have taken it the next day after hearing the news.
To help others deal with similar feelings, Chatterjee says she first helps her patients determine whether what they are feeling is anger or fear.
“We have this thing where we hide and when we hide, it’s almost like I don’t recognize in myself that I’m in pain,” Chatterjee said.
But she says the pain also reflects love – and the desire to help.
“It’s a good thing that we feel angry, frustrated, helpless. It means we care. ”