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Coronavirus Victims: Kentucky Doctor Mohammad Jawed

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

COVID-19 has now killed nearly 900 health care workers, according to the CDC. Some sources say the toll could be even higher - more than 1,400 lives. Today, we're going to remember one of them, Dr. Mohammad Jawed.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Jawed was born in Pakistan in 1961. He studied medicine there before making his way to Corbin, Ky., where he practiced medicine for 23 years.

CHANG: He had three daughters - 25-year-old Ghazal; Hannah, who is 18; and 8-year-old Fareen. Ghazal says her dad was game for just about anything.

GHAZAL: I randomly wanted to paint my dad's toenails, and he was just really chill. So he let me do that. Like, he had no objection at all. He was like, OK.

CHANG: Hannah remembered her dad as a gentle soul.

HANNAH: He's a take-a-nap-by-the-beach kind of guy. He would say, I can't wait to get out there and just sit on the beach and close my eyes and listen to the waves.

SHAPIRO: Dr. Jawed was also a hero. Two years ago, he was diagnosed with blood cancer. And six months later, he was back at work, even as he continued chemotherapy.

CHANG: And though his health made him more vulnerable to COVID, he continued to see patients during the pandemic. Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear honored him at a recent press conference.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

ANDY BESHEAR: That's a lot of courage - isn't it? - to be battling something like he was but to say, I'm needed now, maybe more than ever, during this COVID pandemic. That's sacrifice.

HANNAH: And I don't think he would regret his decision. I think that was the only way for him to go, honestly - doing what he loved.

SHAPIRO: Dr. Jawed's passion was medicine. He read academic journals in his free time. He found what he loved and advised his daughters to do the same.

HANNAH: He said, my main thing is, whatever you do, do something that you're good at. Don't try to do something that you aren't passionate about.

CHANG: In September, Dr. Jawed became sick with COVID-19. His daughters were able to visit him once in the hospital when it looked as if he might recover. But then he became more and more ill. And as many families have had to do in this pandemic, Ghazal said goodbye to her father on a video call.

GHAZAL: You know, seeing him on the video in that way was - it was very hard.

SHAPIRO: He was weak and couldn't speak. Ghazal didn't know if he could hear her. Hannah didn't want to see her father that way, so she opted out of the call. We asked her what she would tell him if she could speak to him again.

HANNAH: I'd tell him that we're going to be OK. That one time we did get to visit him in the hospital, I all of a sudden had this overwhelming feeling of calmness come over me. It was like he was telling me that everything was going to be OK and that we were going to be OK no matter what happened. So I would just tell him to not worry about us.

CHANG: Dr. Mohammad Jawed, father to Ghazal, Hannah and Fareen, died on October 31. He was 59. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.