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Father and son doctors die of coronavirus weeks apart after being hospitalized on Father's Day

CNN logo CNN 8/13/2020 By Rosa Flores and Sara Weisfeldt, CNN

a person wearing a mask: Dr. Carlos Vallejo, 57, followed his father into medicine. He'd been treating coronavirus patients before his death.

Dr. Carlos Vallejo, 57, followed his father into medicine. He'd been treating coronavirus patients before his death.
© Courtesy Vallejo family

Two well-known physicians from Florida, a father and son, have died from Covid-19 complications, according to a family member.

Dr. Carlos Vallejo, 57, and his father, Dr. Jorge Vallejo, 89, were hospitalized during the early morning hours of Father's Day. They died five weeks apart, said Carlos' son, Charlie Vallejo.

Dr. Jorge Vallejo was a retired obstetrician and gynecologist who practiced for more than 45 years in the Miami area and treated celebrities, like salsa singer Celia Cruz. He was known for delivering one of the smallest babies in the world, a 22-week-old who weighed 15 ounces.

He moved his family, including a 2-year-old Carlos, to Miami from Guantanamo, Cuba, in 1965. All three of his sons studied medicine, too.

Dr. Carlos Vallejo was on the frontlines of the pandemic, suiting up in full personal protective equipment and treating dozens of Covid-19 patients at any point in time.

Charlie Vallejo told CNN his father treated his patients like family.

"He cared too much," Charlie Vallejo said. "He died a hero."

They died weeks apart

Jorge died on June 27 while Carlos battled Covid-19 from a hospital room. His family delivered the devastating news of his father's death over FaceTime.

"(He was) surrounded by machines and no human contact so I think that kind of broke him," said Charlie Vallejo.

After three weeks in the ICU, including two weeks on a ventilator, Carlos Vallejo died on August 1. Charlie said his dad didn't have any preexisting conditions.

"He felt like a champion, you know. He was a warrior to the very end," Charlie Vallejo said.

Five members of the Vallejo family contracted coronavirus, including Carlos's wife. The family believes Carlos Vallejo was very cautious, but became infected by treating patients. 

Carlos is one of over 900 US health care workers who've died from the very disease they're trying to save others from.

To memorialize them, Kaiser Health News and the Guardian US joined to publish a database of all the US health care workers who've died from coronavirus since the pandemic began.

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