On March 10, a Boeing 737 Max 8 airplane crashed in Ethiopia, killing the 157 passengers on board. One of the passengers was ETSU medical resident Dr. Manisha Nukavarapu, who was flying to Kenya to visit her sister.
“I guess at first it was just shock,” said Dr. James Myers, director for the internal medicine program. “It was hard to believe.”
Myers said the Quillen College of Medicine was notified of Nukavarapu’s death when some of the residents found out and told an attending physician at the Veterans Affairs hospital. The attending physician notified Myers.
“We’re used to death and dying,” said Myers. “Every patient’s loss is a blow. I think the fact that this was so sudden, a plane crash, and that she was young is a little different kind of death for our residents to deal with. The sudden shock is what’s taken everyone aback.”
According to the Associated Press, the Ethiopian plane was new and delivered to the airline in November. The plane crashed six minutes after departure at 8:44 a.m. near Bishoftu, or Debre Zeit, 31 miles outside Addis Ababa.
“This is on the news almost every night,” Myers said. “If you’re her friends here, it’s hard to get past that, I think.”
Myers described Nukavarapu, 28 year old second-year internal medicine resident, as a person with a positive attitude, easy to get along with, and always had a big smile on her face.
“A lot of the residents said it was hard to be negative around her,” said Myers. “If you were having a bad day, she was the kind of person that could always have a positive attitude and pick you up. I think a lot of the residents will miss her friendship. I think we’ll miss her where we expected to see her … at our weekly lecture series, in her clinic settings and at our graduation.”
Myers said to honor Nukavarapu’s memory, they replaced their March 12 lecture with a time of remembrance. Myers said that the residents and faculty are also discussing an annual memorial or reward in her honor. Nukavarapu will be more formally remembered at the resident’s graduation in June.
“She would have completed the program next year,” Myers said. “We’re going to give an honorary certificate to her family as if she had graduated.”
Myers said that the residents and faculty are still trying to process the events that happened.
“I’m giving them a test tomorrow, and I had to take her off the roster,” Myers said. “In some ways, it’s hard to know she’s not returning.”