Andrea Araujo still can’t believe her father’s gone. Nine days after she lost him, Araujo remembers the last conversation she had with him, before he passed away from Covid-19.
“He told me that, despite everything, he was happy with what he had accomplished. It was a good talk. I wish I could have hugged him for the last time,” Araujo, 22, told Noticias Telemundo.
Dr. Carlos Araujo-Preza, 51, a pulmonologist from El Salvador, had been treating hundreds of serious Covid-19 cases in Houston until he contracted the coronavirus in October. He would soon be treated by his colleagues in the same intensive care unit he ran.
After having spent two weeks on a ventilator, Araujo-Preza died Nov. 30.
“He was very brave. From March to April, when little was known about this disease, he woke up every day motivated to go to attend to patients,” his daughter said. “He slept for weeks in the hospital. Because he was aware of the patients and the new cases that arrived, he wanted everyone to have the necessary care.”
Araujo-Preza’s death has shaken the Latino community, especially in Texas, where there have been more than 1.3 million cases of Covid-19 and more than 22,000 deaths. The state has not issued stay-at-home orders in recent months — even though case numbers are rising and cities like Lubbock report that they no longer have any open hospital beds.
His longtime partner, Paige King, takes comfort in knowing how dedicated he was to his patients until the end of his life. “Carlos died by his own terms — he sacrificed himself in order to save the lives of others,” she wrote in a Facebook post.
Araujo-Preza came to the U.S. from El Salvador in 1994 to pursue his education at Staten Island University Hospital and Tulane University. He moved to Houston in 2001 to dedicate his career to medicine, eventually becoming the critical care medical director at HCA Houston Healthcare Tomball in Tomball.
“We are saddened by the passing of Dr. Carlos Araujo-Preza,” HCA Houston Healthcare said in a statement. “His clinical excellence, compassionate care and kindness will be greatly missed. Dr. Carlos Araujo-Preza touched so many of our lives and will always be remembered for his profound commitment to his patients. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies go out to his family, friends and colleagues.”
His daughter has been moved by support the family has received.
“The number of patients and colleagues who have given me messages of support and described the experiences they had with him makes me very proud,” she said. “Outside of working hard, he always made time for his family. He was a responsible son and a loving father. I’ll be forever grateful for that.”