Coronavirus Acts of Kindness #1

LONDON -

From the moment I heard the news that a parent at school was diagnosed with coronavirus, I knew we had to remove the kids from school. It turned out that it was only a week earlier than everyone else. So much has changed in a week.

My son is immunodeficient, and I am waiting to hear if we are in the most at-risk group of 1.5 million. The information is hazy, but a mother’s instinct is crystal clear.

It has been like this for the past four years: Even when a GP dismissed me, even when at some stage a consultant discharged us, I knew something was not right. My bitter and not-at-all-sweet vindication came on December 24 — an unusual time for NHS to urgently chase after you — when our new consultant at GOSH, a hospital for children, ran a test that showed that my child needed to come in for immuno treatment.

He had his first IV on December 27, the same day that Wuhan health officials were told that a new coronavirus was causing illness. Hashem sheltered me and my family from this life-changing news for years, but when it was time, He provided a protective remedy on the spot.

I’d like to share a list of small acts of kindness that mean so much in the middle of all this:

Our headmistress called us late at night just after she found out about the ill parent to alert us about the situation.

The kosher supermarket replied in minutes to my enquiry about a Pesach delivery. They could not help, but sent me the personal contact information of staff from local charities that organize help. Within minutes of my contacting Project ImpAct, two teenage girls were braving the crowds doing my Pesach shopping. I put the most basic items on the list, but even so there were 30 items!

I organized the list by aisle and tried to be as meticulous as I could, but with products missing they patiently had to text me now and then. I felt so guilty receiving this help and so loved. These teens don’t come from my shul or school, and I’ve never even crossed paths socially with their mothers.

Initial contact with NHS staff was difficult; there was only generic advice available, and we felt lost. What about the next treatment? We got a generic email from one department citing thousands of cases that they could not individually reply to.

Our consultant called to check on us and answered all our questions, admitting what she does not know. She urged me to get back-up meds “before there will be no one to prescribe them.”

The treatment got cancelled since the hospital needed to merge wards and it was not safe for us to be there. But then our specialist nurse answered emails late at night, on her day off, to arrange a different hospital!

Now we are isolating, davening and hoping to be able to attend this time. Uncertainty of the situation has started getting to my kids, no matter how we try to be cheerful. Camp Simcha sent Pesach coloring books and my kids are overjoyed. Small acts of kindness.

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