Royal Free Hospital receptionist tells of trauma as Covid-19 positive partner fought for his life while she worked downstairs

PUBLISHED: 19:00 19 June 2020 | UPDATED: 11:08 20 June 2020

Ibrahim Kamara and Iye Kargbo. Picture: Royal Free Hospital

Ibrahim Kamara and Iye Kargbo. Picture: Royal Free Hospital


While Ibrahim Kamara was fighting for his life at the Royal Free Hospital, his partner Iye Kargbo was in the same building, continuing to work night shifts on reception at the hospital’s A&E department but still unable to visit.

Biology student and would-be doctor Mamusu Kamara. Picture: Royal Free HospitalBiology student and would-be doctor Mamusu Kamara. Picture: Royal Free Hospital

Thankfully Ibrahim has now recovered. But throughout a weeks long ordeal – he spent four weeks in an induced coma and four more split between intensive care and a recovery ward – their family was reliant on liaison doctor Dr Kamika Raja – who has now inspired their biology student daughter Mamusu, 19, to look towards a career in medicine.

READ MORE: Labour’s Keir Starmer warns vulnerable young people could be falling ‘under the radar’ amid lockdown

Iye, who has worked at the hospital for 23 years, said she had, after observing a two week isolation, not dreamt of staying away from work even despite the trauma she was going through.

She said: “Colleagues said to me, ‘Iye you’re so strong’. What they didn’t know was I was going home and crying. I was just so worried but equally I was determined to keep doing my job to the best of my ability.”

Dr Kamika Raja. Picture: Royal Free HospitalDr Kamika Raja. Picture: Royal Free Hospital

While for Ibrahim, agreeing to go on a ventilator was a terrifying moment.

“If I didn’t go on a ventilator I’d continue to deteriorate but if I went on a ventilator at least I had a chance,” he said.

“Even though I was an experienced nurse I was just so shocked at what had happened to me.”

The couple actually met while both working for the Royal Free NHS Trust, and Ibrahim currently works a Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospital.

Helping the couple and their daughter through was Dr Raja. Mamusu said: “My experience with Dr Raja has inspired me to go into medicine. I now want to be a doctor.

“I turned 19 on a day when Dad’s condition was actually deteriorating and I was incredibly upset but she managed to make me understand the situation and how there were always going to be setbacks along the way and that I must try and remain positive.”

Dr Raja, who usually works in paediatrics but moved to help family liaison during the pandemic, said: “I remember speaking to her on her birthday and her telling me that I’d cheered her up and she was going to write the conversation down so she could remember it in years to come. I’m thrilled to hear she’s decided to become a doctor. That means so much to me.”

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