Three days before being admitted to a hospital, seriously ill with Covid-19, Dr. Adán Augusto Alonso published his last message: an apology for not being able to attend as soon as he wanted to all the people who were looking for him. “I am attending more than 300 families daily until 2:00 in the morning,” he wrote on his Facebook profile. “A person called me irresponsible for not having answered him yet. Excuse me, I would like to attend all of them quickly but it is not possible ”.
It was May 25 and by then the 63-year-old doctor had already been in self-quarantine for six days, after attending for almost two months and free of charge to people who came to his clinic, in the city of León, with symptoms of Covid-19 . However, he continued to respond through video calls on Messenger and WhatsApp. It is estimated that he helped more than 1,500 people in a single week, taking short breaks to rest, before his own lungs began to need artificial assistance.
His brother, Dr. Máximo Guillermo Alonso, a year older than him, also treated patients with Covid-19 in his clinic and also got the virus. He died the night of June 7 at the León Hospital and seven days later, on June 14, Dr. Adán died at the Alfredo Pellas Hospital in Chinandega.
Just a month and a half earlier, on April 30, the mother of both, 94-year-old Doña Margarita Flores Urbina, had died. The old woman fractured a knee while fleeing the stones thrown by Sandinista paramilitaries and then suffered a stroke, after a night in which the sirens of the police patrols sounded for more than two hours straight. He never walked again and his health deteriorated in the following months.
The Alonso family is known in León for being made up of numerous prestigious doctors, but also because it has suffered intense harassment from the Ortega Murillo regime since the citizen protests of April 2018, in which almost all Alonso actively participated.
The younger sister of doctors Alonso, María Eugenia, was handcuffed and tortured in November 2019 along with her husband and son, when police violently broke into her home and forced them to promise on camera “not to fuck the militants (Sandinistas ), nor to the people ”.
But the repression suffered by the family is much older. It comes from the time of the Somozas and the first Sandinista regime and its most recent expression was the police siege of the funeral of Adán Augusto Alonso, known in León as “the town doctor”. A doctor who began to attend cases of Covid-19 free of charge when the Government was still denying them. He gave himself entirely to the mission of saving lives and ended up paying with his own.
“He was part of my soul,” says his daughter Magda, also a doctor. “I’m broken inside.”
Read: Doctor Adán Augusto Alonso dies after battling Covid-19
Dr. Adán Augusto Alonso with his daughter, Dr. Magda Alonso. THE PRESS / Courtesy
Childhood in poverty
Máximo Guillermo Alonso Jirón and Margarita Flores Urbina had seven children, four men and three women, who grew up in the street known as la Marcoleta, in León. It was a poor family. The father did carpentry, masonry, and mechanical work, and the mother ironed and washed other people’s clothes.
“My mom and dad shaped us as best they could. My brothers all studied at Calasanz, but with scholarships, ”says María Eugenia, 56 years old. “They came out with medals and kept their scholarship until the fifth year. Of seven brothers, four became doctors. Óscar Danilo, Máximo Guillermo, Adán Augusto and me ”.
Maximo was the fifth child and Adam was born a year later. “All my brothers have been wonderful beings”, says María Eugenia, “but more Adam”. At 10 years old, he was known as “the genius boy of mathematics” and he set up his own little school in the courtyard of the house, where he taught classes to neighborhood kids who came with their stools. The mothers who could do it paid him weekly and he gave Dona Margarita every peso earned. He said to her: “Take it, mommy, so you don’t have to wash so many clothes and your back doesn’t hurt,” says Magda Alonso.
His parents always said that they wanted to have medical children and the first to decide on that profession was Óscar Danilo. Upon leaving high school, Máximo and Adán followed in their footsteps. They entered the Medicine career at the National Autonomous University (UNAN) of León. In the morning they studied and in the afternoon they worked. Maximo helping his father in the advertising business: making announcements with speakers. Adam giving Mathematics and Natural Sciences classes at the Calasanz School.
By then the father of the Alonso Flores was already a correspondent for the newspaper LA PRENSA, in the department of León. “My dad was famous for his fight against the Somoza dictatorship and against the Sandinista dictatorship. In the 1980s he was repeatedly imprisoned and tortured. He was a correspondent for LA PRENSA throughout the eighties and collaborated with La Voz de Estados Unidos and the BBC in London, ”says María Eugenia. “When there was censorship, they jailed him and asked him where he got the information from. All the decade of the eighties we fought alongside my dad ”.
Read: The Orteguista Police force the Reyes Alonso family under torture to record videos
The seven Alonso Flores brothers in order of birth. The last three, on the far right, are Máximo Guillermo, Adán Augusto and María Eugenia Alonso Flores. THE PRESS / Courtesy
“Somoza jailed him several times, but he did not repress the family,” he says. “Once, in the eighties, they locked me up in a classroom and asked where my father had got some information from a news story and I, without knowing anything, girl, in high school. But even if I had known, I wouldn’t have said anything to them. ”
In this environment the Alonso grew up and from there comes, they say, the natural tendency to oppose everything that is unfair. In April they attended the self-organized marches in León. Especially the families of Adán and María Eugenia.
He passed by his sister’s house, with the blue and white flag and on the forehead a ribbon with the legend: “Let your mother surrender.” “Let’s go! Let’s go to the march! ” He was happy because “the people opened their eyes”. “It is a miracle,” he said. I thought I was going to die and I wasn’t going to see the people reasoning. “
Maximo was also opposed to the regime, but he was more homely. Something that did not prevent that, like his brothers, they also stained his house with threats typical of the Sandinista mobs.
The greatest harassment, however, was suffered by Adam and María Eugenia. They used to harass him with patrols and throw stones at the house. A few weeks ago – says her daughter Magda -, already at the time of the pandemic, a patient asked her for help, but not before warning her:
“Doctor, I am a Sandinista and I stoned your house, would you attend me?”
“You are sick, I am a doctor, why should I not attend you,” replied the doctor.
That same afternoon, on May 20, the doctor clarified on his Facebook profile that his WhatsApp services were “totally free and without restrictions.” “Regardless of political position, because many have asked me if they can consult me,” he wrote.
The only thing he was asking was that they only make video calls, for more security and because receiving many calls caused headaches.
Read: The Leonese doctor Máximo Alonso dies from Covid-19
Dr. Máximo Guillermo Alonso died on June 7, from Covid-19. PHOTO / Courtesy
“León burns in Covid”
Both Adam and Máximo were known in León as good doctors and “no careros”. Their clinics were kept full and often gave away the consultation. Peasants came from all corners of the department and the doctors did not charge them.
María Olimpia Mayorga, 69, was a patient of Dr. Adán for 25 years. At that time, he cured her of peritonitis, kidney problems, dengue hemorrhagic fever, and even a stone that she accidentally received on the street and knocked her unconscious. “Three or four years ago, he no longer charged me a single Córdoba and gave me the medicine,” says the lady.
“When I had dengue hemorrhagic fever, my daughter called him at midnight and he would come to see me in a taxi,” she recalls. “Because such a doctor was and never had a car. You only saw him in a taxi or on his bike. Or jump with his briefcase. There is no spare for that doctor. ”
In the eyes of Doña María Olimpia, Dr. Adán “had the hands of God.” “I am very sad,” she says, “after God, only my doctor and now that my doctor left, I only have God, because I don’t think I can find another like him.”
Adán Augusto Alonso’s charity transcended his clinic. In the bloodiest months of the Ortega repression, he helped political prisoners by giving medicine to their families. One of the beneficiaries was Byron Estrada, grandson of Doña María Olimpia.
In addition, he had a tradition of saving all year to buy many poor children the school uniform in December. “I walked with him several times, helping him to do the shopping,” says his sister María Eugenia. And it cannot contain crying. “A lot of people are going to run out of that doctor who was running to help.”
When the pandemic of the new coronavirus began to touch the city of León, Dr. Adán guessed that terrible times were coming. He made “lots of surgical cloth masks” and distributed them in his neighborhood and among the neediest people. Two masks to each person so that they could wash one while using the other. “If we all did a little, perhaps the pandemic will not attack how it is going to attack, because here it will be an Ecuador,” he said.
Although he struggled to protect people and even broadcast live videos via Facebook, with detailed instructions to prevent the spread, he was unable to evade the sheer amount of virus that he was subjected to. “He did not have all the necessary protective equipment,” says his daughter Magda. He wore cloth masks and a face mask to care for hundreds of suspected Covid-19 patients.
In early March, many days before the first positive case of Covid-19 was formalized in Nicaragua, strange feverish cases were already registered in the city of León. Dr. Adán began to attend them for free in his clinic, but more and more people were looking for him after being told in public hospitals in León and Chinandega that they had nothing.
For the doctor, it was clearly possible cases of Covid-19 and he reported it on his social networks, while strongly calling for physical distance and the use of masks.
Doña Margarita Flores with her son Adán Augusto. She died on April 30 of this year, at 94 years old. PHOTO / Courtesy
Finally he began to feel tired and the first fevers appeared. On May 19, he announced that he would physically stop attending to his patients, but that his cell phone would continue to be open for consultations from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m., a time that he later had to extend.
“In the past few days I have diagnosed many typical coronavirus pneumonias and many suspected asymptomatic patients. I cannot help any serious patient, the Minsa advised that they are the ones authorized to solve the cases, ”he wrote that day. “Therefore, and considering that I must already have a high viral load, for my safety and that of my patients, I go into preventive self-quarantine. I will restart on June 2. ”
That afternoon, as he did every day in the world, he closed his clinic and stopped by María Eugenia’s house.
“Come in,” she said. Are you going to have coffee?
“I’m not going in,” said the doctor. I’m already Covid. I’m just coming to tell you that I’m not coming anymore because I’m Covid.
“From that time on my soul was destroyed,” cries her sister. “I knew he could have a high viral load.”
From the house, she continued to attend and fall asleep at 2:00 in the morning “her health was greatly reduced,” says her daughter, Dr. Magda.
On May 24, Dr. Adán published his penultimate message: “People of Nicaragua. I have received more than 1,500 WhatsApp messages and video calls. I have answered 1,200, many with audio-video to the most serious. Lots of Covid bass. 95 percent are Covid. “
The next day, he continued to assist hundreds of people, while his health deteriorated in plain sight. At last Magda managed to convince him to rest, but not before committing herself to take on the patients; but in the following three days the doctor became more ill, until hospitalization was inevitable on Thursday, May 28.
Take care of yourself, protect yourself, you will no longer see patients at home. León burns in Covid ”, he told his sister María Eugenia before they took him to the Alfredo Pellas Hospital, where he fought for his life for 17 long days.
In those days, his brother Máximo Guillermo also fell seriously, after having treated many Covid-19 patients in his clinic. The infection progressed rapidly and died three days later. Dr. Adam did not hear of his death. He was already intubated when Máximo passed away, on the night of Sunday, June 7. They buried him at 5:30 in the morning on Monday in the San Felipe cemetery in the city of León.
Dr. Oscar Danilo Alonso also had Covid-19, but he was saved by Dr. Adán. The family believes that if he had been healthy at the time Máximo became ill, perhaps they would also have been able to cure him.
Doctor Adam on the bicycle with which he traveled the streets of León. He never wanted to have a car. He didn’t even learn to drive. THE PRESS / Courtesy
Besieged on the day of his funeral
The Alonso brothers liked to declaim poetry and both enjoyed a great sense of humor. Máximo was “horny but very jovial”, “chilero” at any time. Adam was good at jokes and was cheerful as long as he wasn’t in consultation. When he worked he was the most serious person in the world and some could even be confused and consider him a “brave” person.
The truth is that Adam Augustus was soft-tempered and suited his size well. Small and small, there are those who called him “Doctor Chiquitín”. He wore a must-have guayabera and pants that sometimes were too big for him. He liked to bathe in the rain and, with shorts and a camisole in hand, he was fussing over the family kid to accompany him. Before the pandemic, I did an hour of exercise every night starting at 8:00. He did not smoke, did not drink, had no chronic illnesses, and could play a full game of soccer.
He was killed by the large viral load obtained in so many weeks of exposure, considers his daughter. For Magda, her father was a partner, an accomplice, a friend. The person I called every Saturday to discuss the boxing matches they had seen.
On the morning of June 14, she performed a live performance of her father’s funeral. The transmission lasted two hours and showed the entire route from Chinandega to the León cemetery where Dr. Adán was buried. Along the way, cars, motorcycles and tricycles joined together to form a large caravan, or people took to the streets with blue and white flags to pay tribute to the doctor. “Here goes one of my best buyers for bracelets,” said a seller of “vandalic bracelets.”
Also throughout the tour, the caravan was besieged by the Police and several people were attacked for carrying national flags. But “there was no fear,” says Magda. “Just love for my father. The people of León did not care about the presence of the Police, nor of the riot police. ”
The body of Dr. Adán Alonso fell to the ground as those present sang the Nicaraguan Hymn in a broken voice. A blue and white flag and a band with the phrase “Viva Nicaragua libre” covered his coffin. For the policemen who besieged him even on the day of his funeral, the doctor was an “enemy”. For the people who knew him, he was simply “the town doctor.”
Leon doctor Adán Augusto Alonso, internist doctor, during a self-convened march in the city of León. PHOTO / COURTESY
I dreamed of unity
Dr. Adán Augusto Alonso Flores was a member of the Departmental Assembly of the Civic Alliance in León. He joined the organization because he was interested in the unit. In the short term, one of his greatest wishes was to see a united opposition.
“It is united that we have to react,” he said, according to his sister María Eugenia. “There in the roadblocks, in the protests, we walked around and we did not ask ourselves if this had been a Sandinista or that liberal. We did not ask ourselves what color were our ideas to support young people. We have to fight for unity because if nothing is going to be all the efforts of April. “