Italian priest who gave up ventilator to younger patient dies

An Italian priest who contracted coronavirus died last week after giving up a ventilator so that a younger patient could use the medical device, according to local media reports.

Fr. Don Giuseppe Berardelli, 72, who served as the archpriest of the parish of San Giovanni Battista, in Casnigo, Italy, died between March 15 and 16, according to a translation of the Italian news outlet Prima Bergamo. The town is northeast of Milan in the northern part of the country.

Berardelli died in a hospital in nearby Lovere. A health care worker told the Italian news outlet Araberara that the priest had been given a respirator that was bought for him by parishioners but asked that it be given to someone younger than him.   

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“He was a simple, straightforward person, with a great kindness and helpfulness towards everyone, believers and non-believers,” Giuseppe Imberti, the mayor of Casnigo, said in a statement, Araberara reported.

The priest will be remembered for his “smile and dynamism,” according to Prima Bergamo, as well as his love for his Guzzi Galletto motorcycle.

"He was a priest who listened to everyone, he knew how to listen, whoever turned to him knew that he could count on his help," Clara Poli, mayor of Fiorano, where Berardelli had served as a parish priest, said.

"He loved his motorbike, and when you saw him go by he was always cheerful," Poli added.

Berardelli was born in Fonteno in 1947 and was ordained in 1973, Prima Bergamo reported. 

There have been at least 69,176 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Italy, making it one of the hardest hit countries in the world by the pandemic. Italy has the largest number of deaths from coronavirus in the world with at least 6,820.