Muscat: The Omani nurse who recently died from COVID-19 worked selflessly for her patients, leaving home at 6:30am and returning only at 4pm, after taking care of 35 to 40 people a day.
The family of Shanouna Al Nu’amani, who succumbed to the virus on Friday, May 14, at the age of 58, said her utmost dedication to her patients meant she never took a day off work, and often went beyond the range of her duty to do everything she could to make them feel better.
“She was entitled to apply for retirement, according to the law, but she said she would not retire until the COVID-19 pandemic ends in the Sultanate,” recalled her husband, Sawad bin Saleem Al Sinawi. “She used to say ‘my country, Oman, and all my colleagues at work, and the patients, need me now more than ever.’
“Her selflessness has alleviated from me the pain of her departure, because she was well known among her colleagues for the love she always gave her patients,” he added. “At home, no matter the problems, she was always smiling. I am very proud of my wife for serving the country, and for the help she gave her colleagues in caring for her patients.”
Sawad reminded people that his wife’s death had not been in vain, but rather in dedicated service to her nation. Born in March 1963 in Rwanda, Shanouna completed her schooling in Uganda, before migrating to Oman in 1982, where she lived in Al Khoud, while taking up a nursing degree at the Nursing Institute in Wattayah, which included training at three hospitals: Khoula, Al Nahda, and the Royal Hospital.
Her training over, she chose to join the paediatric nursing department at Khoula, because she was very fond of children, and it was there she continued to work for 37 years, until she breathed her last. She married her husband in 1991, and bore four children. She has two daughters – 26-year-old Shaima and 27-year-old Sarah – and two sons, the elder of whom is Salah, 24.
Shanouna contracted COVID after it was transmitted to her by a colleague. As her symptoms increased in severity, she was admitted to a private hospital on 17 February, before transferring to the Royal Hospital four days later, where she soon afterwards fell into a coma.
The family were prevented from visiting her at the time. A month later, she was moved to the multi-specialty section of the hospital, and then the women’s section of the internal medicine department.
Despite the best efforts of her colleagues, they were unable to save her, and Shanouna left for her heavenly abode at 1:46am on the 14th of May.
Her son, Salah, is full of pride for the dedication and ultimate sacrifice she made, even refusing to take time off to protect herself as infection numbers surged in the country.
“My father had urged her to take a vacation to avoid being affected by the rise in COVID cases, but she refused, and was determined to stand alongside her fellow nurses during these challenging times,” he recalled.
“I do not want it to be recorded in my service history that I retreated or wavered from serving my country while it was going through a critical period. “My mother contracted COVID-19 at a time when the cases were surging, so I knew she would go through a dangerous phase,” he admitted. “I expected many outcomes, including her death, because the Ministry of Health had announced a great rise in infections, deaths and hospitalisations in the country since mid-February this year.”
Shanouna saw her work as more than just a job: helping patients recover, she felt, was a humanitarian duty she needed to carry out with honesty, rarely complaining about being tired or bored of her responsibilities. She was also always ready to help out her colleagues, who often did not even need to ask her to provide assistance.
“I am very proud of my mother – she is a martyr in the service of the nation and humanity,” said Salah. “She is a wonderful woman who passed away while wholeheartedly helping her colleagues and taking care of the sick. If my mother were in front of me today, I would firstly tell her I am so proud of the sacrifices she made for the nation.
“She was provided the responsibility of taking care of patients during their most critical time,” he revealed. “To my mother I say: you are strong, you are a role model, and an amazing example for all of us. You have shown us the highest forms of determination, helping others, persistence, and serving others. We will, God willing, do our best to walk in your path, and carry the banner of humanity you held at home, at work, and everywhere else you went.”
Shanouna’s kindness was greatly seen in her own family: Salah thanked her for the values and principles of humanity with which she had brought up her children, and admitted that she would often provide assistance to her own brothers and sisters as well, trying to do what she could to ease their problems.
“I want to thank her for all she has provided to us, so that she may lie in peace in the gardens of heaven,” he said, sharing an example of how those she had helped remembered her kindness and dedication.
“We were at a shopping mall in Muscat, where one of the security guards approached her, asking her if she remembered him,” revealed Salah.
“She admitted to not being familiar with him, but he responded: ‘you are the one who took care of my child, made sure she was treated well, sat with her until she was cured, and gave her food, drink, and gifts that would make her happy and help her recover quickly. I will not forget what you did. I thank you immensely because my daughter is with me today thanks to the efforts of you and God. I am unable to thank you enough…I will never forget you from my prayers.”
“These words were very powerful,” said Shanouna’s son. “I was very proud of my mother, and told her: mama, I am very proud of you. Because of you, wherever we go, people wish you peace, offer you praise, and give you their thanks. You are loved by everyone.”