One of the most insidious aspects of the coronavirus pandemic is the virus’ ability to deprive dying patients of the chance to say goodbye to the people and places they love. Retired Dutch ambulance driver Kees Veldboer is trying to remedy this unfortunate reality, driving terminally ill coronavirus patients to places they’d like to say goodbye to. Veldboer, the founder of Stichting Ambulance Wens, has fulfilled over 14,000 dying wishes, including several hundred since the pandemic began.
Since the Netherlands’ lockdown isn’t as strict as other European countries, many places remain open, making it possible for Veldboer to travel somewhat freely and fulfill dying wishes more easily.
“We fulfill wishes even now with the coronavirus,” Veldboer told The Daily Mail. “We are not in a complete lockdown so we are able to make those wishes come true. We can go to open spaces, to flower gardens, to an empty zoo, a park, a lot of people want to see the sea, it’s not forbidden. As long as we go to open places and there are not many people around, just one or two with the patient, we are fine.”
He helped one dying patient say goodbye to his horse, another to say farewell to a boat, and several to see the blooming tulip fields. He will soon travel to southern Spain to pick up a terminally ill Dutch man, whose last wish is to return to his family in the Netherlands.