'I will never forget him': Tearful friend recalls holding hands with nurse as he passed away with coronavirus

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Sejal Karia

The friend of a London nurse who died after contracting coronavirus has paid a tearful tribute to her "joyful" friend and recalled the final moments she spent by his bedside.

Kenneth Lambatan, 33, worked as a cardiac research nurse at St George's Hospital in London and returned to frontline nursing to help during the coronavirus outbreak.

He died on Monday at St Thomas's Hospital while holding the hand of his best friend of 20 years, Via Salinasal.

Ms Salinasal, who works as a theatre nurse, was by her friend's bedside in full protective equipment during his final moments, as Mr Lambatan's family were unable to make it as they live in the Philippines.

Speaking to ITV News about Mr Lambatan, Ms Salinasal: "We talked a lot, he said he wanted to get married, he said he wanted a family, he said that if I can bring your son here that he'd help me.

"He's always been that friend that's so full of dreams but he wants your dreams to come true as well and he becomes really happy if he sees you becoming successful and that's how I will remember him.

"I will never forget him."

Via Salinasal was able to hold Ken Lambatan's hand as he passed away with Covid-19. Credit: Via Salinasal/ ITV News

Ms Salinasal said she received a call from staff at St Thomas's Hospital while she was at work, informing her that Mr Lambatan was not going to survive.

She said: "I was at work when I got the call from the consultant that Kenneth is dying and I begged the doctor if he could give him more time and he said 'Via, I don't think that's going to make any difference.'

  • 'I was still holding his hand and he flatlined... he was gone like that': Ms Salinasal recalls her final moments with best friend Kenneth

"I said 'can I visit him, can I see him because his family is not here?'

"I'm so thankful to St Thomas's Hospital because they allowed me to hold his hand.

"As I was holding his hand I just thought of his friends and family who would rather be in my place and it's comforting to know he didn't die alone."

  • 'I don't think he's going to make it': Ms Salinasal recalls emotional call from doctors

She called on authorities to do more to protect doctors and nurses treating patients, saying there should be enough PPE for staff.

"It's basic.

"It's something that we could have prepared for much better.

"We are here now so at least the first step is to acknowledge that there is a problem.

"There has to be a better way of dealing with this."

  • Ms Salinasal says more PPE is needed for the NHS

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