August 21, 2020

Adventist Taxi Driver Helps Save Dozens of COVID-19 Patients

Margiory Salinas, South American Division, and Adventist Review

In the Libertad area in Peru, hospitals have collapsed due to a large increase in positive cases of COVID-19. According to official sources, by the end of July 2020, almost 26,000 people had become infected. Against that background, having oxygen readily available has become essential to help save lives not only inside hospitals but also outside of them.

Amir Cotrina Sánchez, a taxi driver and a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, lives in Trujillo, northern Peru. He is 37 years old, a married father of three, and has been a taxi driver for seven years.

At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, taxi work within the city limits was forbidden. Eventually, however, a rule was issued that authorized taxi drivers to work two days a week. Sánchez chose only one day, since the other day he was given was Saturday, a Sabbath day of rest and worship for Seventh-day Adventists.

Sometime after returning to his job, Sánchez felt weak, with chills, tiredness, and a sudden lack of oxygen. Worried, his family members gave him a portable oxygen canister so he could recover. He found that he did not need to use it, and his health was restored by taking only medication. As he improved and felt better, he returned to his cab.

Ready to Save Lives

After that, he decided to take personal protective equipment items in his car, such as masks, facial shields, gloves, and hand sanitizer, to sell to his passengers. He saw it as a way of innovating, expanding his services, and adding a source of income.

Following the news, Sánchez learned that in Trujillo, many people were dying from lack of oxygen. It was then that he decided to take along the canister he had not used and help people when necessary.

“A passenger got into the taxi with breathing problems, but at the nearest hospital, she was told they couldn’t take care of her,” Sánchez shared. “On the way to another hospital, the young woman began to cough and choke. I told her, ‘Please use this oxygen canister.’ And she managed to quiet down and make it to the hospital.”

So far, Sánchez has managed to help almost 40 people. Some fellow taxi drivers also call him when they need his help, which he gives without asking for anything in return. As he gets acquainted with his colleagues who don’t feel well, he prays to God that they recover quickly.

Prayer and Timely Help

At Sánchez’s Adventist congregation, local pastor Rolando Quinteros Zuñiga and his members hosted an event titled the “40 days With the Holy Spirit” initiative. Sánchez, who took part in the program, asked his fellow church members to pray for his passengers and their family members suffering from COVID-19. Sánchez was happy to report that the people they prayed for are recovering satisfactorily.

Sánchez keeps driving his cab, now with a good supply of oxygen canisters. Indeed, the company where one of his relatives first purchased his oxygen canister has sent him a package of portable canisters he can share with his passengers in case of need.

The original version of this story was posted on the Portuguese-language South American Division news site.