Romanian doctor who saved Covid-19 patients from hospital blaze named ‘Hero of 2020’ in Belgium

soins du docteur Denciu à l'HMRA au service des grands brulés

A Romanian doctor who was left badly burned in a hospital fire that left 10 dead has been named “Hero of 2020” in Belgium where he was transferred for treatment.

Catalin Denciu was hailed as a hero in Romania after it emerged he had tried to help Covid-19 patients to safety in the November 2020 blaze.

Hero of 2020

The regional director of the WHO Europe Bureau, Hans Kluge, made the announcement about the award during a visit to Bucharest.

“I am very happy that my native Belgium, has acknowledged the merits of a Romanian doctor from Piatra Neamt, Catalin Denciu, ” he said.

The received the „The Hero of the Year 2020,” Kluge said on Wednesday.


After suffering second and third degree burns to 40% of his body, Dr. Denciu, was transferred to Belgium’s Queen Astrid military hospital for specialized treatment. He spent three weeks in an induced coma.

In March, he was transferred to the Saint-Luc University Hospital, Brussels for further treatment on the long road to recovery. Coincidentally, he worked as an anesthetist there when he was a junior doctor.

Hand Kluge said he’d personally talked to the colonel in charge of the hospital about the award. He made the comments during a public health event at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace.

Covid-19 patients

Ten people suffering from Covid-19 died in the November 14 fire in an intensive care unit of a hospital in the northeastern town of Piatra Neamt. The seven men and three women were aged 67 to 86. Six others were seriously injured.

Then Romanian Premier Ludovic Orban praised Dr Denciu after the blaze. He called him “the heroic doctor who showed particular courage and spirit of sacrifice in trying to save the patients.”

The  fire could have been caused by an electrical short circuit.

Healthcare system

Even before the pandemic, Romania’s healthcare system was under pressure, dogged by corruption, inefficiency and politicized management.

The country has one of the EU’s least developed healthcare infrastructures. Tens of thousands of doctors and nurses have left since the country joined the EU in 2007.

It was the deadliest fire in Romania since 2015, when 64 people were killed in the Colectiv nightclub blaze in Bucharest.


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