British Expat Thanks Vietnamese Doctors for Covid Treatment

The communication expert thought Covid-19 was not that dangerous until he was infected and realized what a threat it was.


British Expat Thanks Vietnamese Doctors for Covid Treatment
Piers Birtwistle in a social activity in Vietnam. (Photo: Zing)

Among 17 patients discharged from Ho Chi Minh City Covid-19 Resuscitation Hospital on July 26, stood a 63-year-old British man, who was infected with Covid on July 27. The man continuously thanked the doctors, saying if it had not been for their considerate care, he might have ended up in a much worse situation.

“Do not be ignorant”

Piers Birtwistle, a communication expert in Christina Noble Children’s Foundation, lives in Ho Chi Minh City, the current biggest pandemic center in Vietnam. On July 12, he suddenly started coughing and sweating. After contacting a clinic in the neighborhood, he was tested and found positive for coronavirus.

Birtwistle was then taken to quarantine at a hotel for 2 days. However, his condition quickly got much worse with coma and respiratory failure. The man was immediately taken to Ho Chi Minh City Covid-19 Resuscitation Hospital in Thu Duc City. Staying in the hospital, Birtwistle was considerately taken care of by the doctors and nurses at the hospital. Birtwistle did not know much Vietnamese so a doctor who could speak fluent English was assigned to care for him.

In his sixties, Birtwistle still regularly exercises. The man has confidence in his health, but it was this illness that made Birtwistle and many of his friends realize how ignorant and subjective they had been with Covid-19.

British Expat Thanks Vietnamese Doctors for Covid Treatment
Piers Birtwistle was discharged from the hospital on July 26. (Photo: Zing)

“I felt worried when hearing that I was positive for Covid-19. I also did not think my condition would turn bad so quickly,” Birtwistle said.

His condition prevented Birtwistle from eating meals prepared by the hospital. The doctors then tried to offer him his favorite food. Birtwistle felt exhausted, unable to talk to any patients during the treatment.

The man said doctors and nurses had been working hard during this period. They had to wear very hot and stuffy protective clothing, did more than their assigned responsibilities to help him recover. Thanks to their effort, the British man lived.

Birtwistle’s respiratory system has not yet fully recovered. He still has to keep an oxygen tank at home in case of an emergency. He still feels tired and sleepy, so his co-workers buy food and leave it his door.

British Expat Thanks Vietnamese Doctors for Covid Treatment
Piers Birtwistle in the hospital. (Photo: Zing)

8 years working in Vietnam

Birtwistle was a wartime photographer. He was invited to work for the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation in Vietnam, an organization that works in education and non-profit healthcare, in 2013. Birtwistle was in charge of marketing, communications, and funding. In the past eight years, he has come into contact with countless unfortunate Vietnamese children and helped them change their fate.

“I live alone in Vietnam, only returning to visit my family once a year. The pandemic has halted the airways for 2 years. It is Vietnamese children who help me ease my homesickness,” Birtwistle said.

He said he loved everything in Vietnam, especially the optimistic and hospitable people. Vietnamese people often communicate with him through smiles because not everyone can speak foreign languages. Ho Chi Minh City’s food impresses him. Birtwistle often goes to riverside restaurants in Thao Dien to enjoy both Western and Vietnamese dishes. Thao Dien, the ‘foreigners hub’ has been Birtwistle’s home since he came to Vietnam.

“Vietnam has many beautiful landscapes. I and my friends love walking through the forest in Sapa or enjoy the beaches of Phu Quoc. I took a lot of pictures of villages, forests, beaches during my wonderful trips before the pandemic,” Birtwistle said, adding that he hoped to get well soon to continue exploring the country.