News ID: 280037
Published: 0819 GMT January 29, 2021

One of Bulgaria's oldest doctors keeps up virus fight

One of Bulgaria's oldest doctors keeps up virus fight
DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP
At 82, infectious disease specialist Maria Bogoeva is one of the oldest doctors known to still be practicing in the whole country.

Infectious disease specialist Dr. Maria Bogoeva was ready to hang up her scrubs and retire from her post in a small provincial hospital in western Bulgaria when the coronavirus pandemic struck.

A year later, the 82-year-old is still on the COVID-19 frontline despite her age, one of the oldest doctors known to still be practicing in the whole country, according to AFP.

She is one of a legion of older medics battling "the horror" of the virus in Bulgaria's overstretched healthcare system.

"My age? I don't feel it. I want to work. If I see that I am no longer useful, I'll bow out," the energetic doctor told AFP.

She sports dark red dyed hair, jewelry and a determined look — she looks after her appearance despite "the daily stress".

"Just because I work in a hospital, doesn't mean that I neglect myself," she smiles.

The European Union's poorest member state suffers from a severe shortage of medical staff as young medical graduates emigrate to the West in search of better career opportunities.

So Bogoeva feels she has little choice but to stay at the bedside of her COVID-19 patients in the municipal hospital in Dupnitsa, some 60 kilometers (40 miles) southwest of the capital Sofia.

To sit at home doing nothing in good health at a time when patients need her expertise the most is simply "unthinkable", she said.

"Was I supposed to let people die? The hospital had no other infection disease specialist, and this amid a healthcare crisis," the doctor explained in a sober voice.

Many other elderly doctors across Bulgaria have made the same choice over the past year, some at the cost of their own lives.

   
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