The oldest general practitioner in Hungary is 97 years old and receives patients every day who nowadays administer vaccines against Covid-19 with an unwavering dedication to his profession.
After all, the practice of medicine goes through your veins. Istvan Kormendi recalls that he was inspired by his early childhood on the example of his father, who was also a general practitioner. And he still lives in the old apartment with a huge ceiling height on the banks of the Danube on the Buda side, where his family moved when he was only 6 years old.
“The whole environment made me do it … And when it became clear that I wanted to become a doctor, my father introduced me to the profession,” he said, sitting behind an old secretary that his father had bought in 1920.
For Istvan Kormendi, who was vaccinated with the Covid-19 vaccine in January, the coronavirus pandemic is just the last of so many seizures and challenges that have marked his long life. Originally from a Jewish family, he risked his life to attend lectures illegally. This is because in 1941, under the anti-Semitic laws in force in Hungary, he was not allowed to attend the medical faculty.
However, he managed to survive the Holocaust. But not without signs of having been forced to do hard labor. To survive, he carried canned food and two of his favorite books on pharmacology and internal medicine. He was only admitted to the university in 1945 after the end of World War II.
“A great blessing”
His diploma is now over 70 years old, but Istvan Kormendi learns and applies new treatments every day, and uses the latest computer technology to make appointments and manage patient records – a Herculean task when you consider all the vaccines you need.
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However, he does not complain and describes vaccines against Covid-19 as a “great blessing” at a time when a third wave of the pandemic hits Hungary and much of the rest of Europe.
“I’ve had to deal with a lot of stress my whole life, and yet constant mental vigilance and work kept me in this state, the way athletes keep in shape through training,” he says. However, the secret of their longevity lies in their genes, even when the doctor helps with genetic information walks.
“I tell myself, let’s go up slowly first and then gain momentum … Those who sit idle quickly lose their physical and mental strength.”
The woman who says she is the love of her life recently passed away. His daughter, also a doctor, lives in Vienna and he misses his grandchildren and his only great-grandchild who lives in Copenhagen. He hasn’t seen her since last year because of the pandemic. But despite homesickness, she finds the courage to lead everyday life with her patients.
The GP currently has a list of 300 people who are looking for him and want to keep responding to them – as long as he can remember the names of new drugs and solve computer problems.
“If I had to say how I want to cope, I would say that if I were 100 years old, after a day at work I would go to sleep comfortably tired and not wake up again.”