A “passionate” top doctor who returned from retirement to help the UK fight coronavirus has died after becoming infected with the disease.
Dr Alfa Saadu died on Tuesday and his son Dani said in a social media post that he had been fighting Covid-19 for two weeks.
The 68-year-old’s death will intensify questions over whether frontline NHS staff have the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need to guard themselves from contagion.
His son Dani told HuffPost UK: “He was a very passionate man, who cared about saving people.
“As soon you spoke to him about medicine his face would light up. He worked for the NHS for nearly 40 years in different hospitals across London.”
He added: “He loved to lecture people in the world of medicine – he did so in the UK and Africa. My dad retired and was working part time at the Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital in Welwyn, Hertfordshire, until his passing.
“He was a massive family man and we did everything together. Family came first. He left two sons and a wife, who is a retired doctor herself in occupational health.”
The physician, who migrated to the UK from Nigeria, stepped down as medical director of the Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust in 2016 after a glowing career.
Dr Saadu’s LinkedIn profile says he graduated from University College London’s medical school in 1976.
His skills saw him rise to become a consultant and later acting clinical director of the care of the elderly department at West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust. He also worked as medical director and consultant physician at Ealing Hospital.
Dani also said he cared for people in Africa and described his father as a “living legend” and has pleaded with people to take Covid-19 “seriously”.
He wrote in an online post yester: “Today at approx 7.30am, Dr Alfa Saadu (my dad) died of the coronavirus.
“He had been fighting the virus for two weeks but he could not fight anymore. The NHS were amazing and did everything they could.
“My dad was a living legend, worked for the NHS for nearly 40 years saving people’s lives here and in Africa. Up until he got sick, he was still working part-time saving people.
“The coronavirus is not a joke, please take it seriously and listen to the government. Please stay safe and protect your loved ones – nothing is more important.”
Lance McCarthy, chief executive of The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust, said Dr Saadu’s former colleagues felt “sadness”, adding: “Alfa was well-known at the trust for his passion for ensuring our patients received high quality care. He was a committed member of the team and is remembered fondly by many.
“His family and friends are in our thoughts at this sad time.”
The Nigerian Tribune also quotes a tribute to Dr Saadu from Bukola Saraki, the former president of the Nigerian Senate.
It says: “My condolences go to the family of late Dr Alfa Saadu, the people of Pategi and Kwara state on the death of the foremost medical practitioner who passed away in London this morning.
“Late Dr Saadu provided leadership for our people in the diaspora as he served for many years as chairman, Kwara State Association of Nigeria (Kwasang UK).
“Back at home, he was a community leader and traditional office holder as Galadima of Pategi. He will be sorely missed.”