After more than four decades working as a Baltimore general surgeon, Dr. Alberto H. Del Corro looked forward in retirement to fulfilling his dream of visiting the nation’s national parks, raising quail on his 200-acre farm in Steelville, Missouri, and indulging in his passion for woodworking.
But instead Dr. Del Corro lost his life to the pandemic in late summer at the age of 73.
Dr. Alberto Hizon Del Corro, who was known as “Bert,” was the son of Dr. Angel Del Corro, a physician, and his wife, Conception Del Corro, a nurse. He was born and raised in Pampanga, the Philippines, where he also attended high school.
After earning his medical degree in 1972 from the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City, the Philippines, Dr. Del Corro came to Baltimore the next year to begin his medical career at Bon Secours Hospital, where he worked until beginning a general surgical residency in 1974 at Franklin Square Medical Center.
For the next 40 years, Dr. Del Corro, a Perry Hall resident who maintained a private surgical practice at the Franklin Square Medical Arts Building, in addition of Franklin Square Medical Center, had surgical privileges at what is now Upper Chesapeake Medical Center, the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center and Good Samaritan Hospital.
“We were friends and worked together very closely at Franklin Square. I first met him in 1976 when we were residents together during those years‚” said Dr. George J. Jabaji, who just retired as chief of vascular surgery at the hospital. "I found him to be an excellent surgeon , an honest man, and a man of his word. In discussions with him, he was never negative and would say, ‘Let’s leave it with God.’ "
He added: “Dr. Del Corro never spoke badly about people, and was always very honest with his patients. He was the perfect man, very religious, very friendly, and a good golfer.”
Pete Hinkelman was not only a golfing buddy but a longtime patient of Dr. Del Corro’s.
“He operated on me five times,” Mr. Hinkelman said. “He was just a terrific person and a wonderful golfer. You never knew he was a doctor when you were playing with him. He had such a great sense of humor.”
Mr. Hinkelman said that “everyone who knew him liked him. Everyone thought the world of Bert.”
Dr. Del Corro was an active member of FABI — Foundation for Aid to the Philippines — a group of medical and surgical missionaries who travel to the Philippines to perform free treatment and surgeries for the poor.
Dr. Del Corro was an active member of the Sparrows Point Country Club.
In 2014, Dr. Del Corro left Baltimore and joined the surgical department at Stilwell Memorial Hospital in Stilwell, Oklahoma, where he worked until retiring in 2018. He and his wife, the former Karen Nestor, a registered, nurse, then moved to their 200-acre farm in Steelville.
“I met him in the operating room at Franklin Square in 1997,” Ms. Del Corro said. “We fell in love and married in 2004.”
The couple looked forward to homesteading on their 200-acre farm, and Dr. Del Corro had recently completed building a brooder box for the quail he hoped to raise. But by late July he started exhibiting COVID symptoms, his wife said.
Dr. Del Corro was tested Aug. 1 and diagnosed with COVID-19 two days later.
“Suddenly, we couldn’t believe what was happening, because our county had only eight cases of COVID-19 and there were no deaths. They had no idea where it came from, but he could have picked it up at a gas station or grocery store, and at this time of the year, there are a lot of people who come here from other areas to go camping,” Ms. Del Corro said.
“We wore masks all the time, but there were people in stores and restaurants who did not, and there was no mandatory order regarding wearing them,” she said. “On Aug, 3, he was sent to the emergency room at Missouri Baptist Sullivan Hospital in Sullivan, Missouri, and then on Aug. 9 to the ICU at Missouri Baptist Hospital in St. Louis.
“I thought we could pull ourselves out of this medical jam because of what we know,” Ms. Del Corro. “I wake up at night thinking, how could this happen to him? Even Bert said, ‘This whole thing is so inhuman. Honey, don’t get your hopes up.' "
She then faced an agonizing two and a half weeks when she could not be with her hospitalized husband.
“It was just so hard not being with him, and I think he knew he wasn’t going to make it,” she said. “He was very lucid and coherent and said he had visions of people singing in his room and the Lord sitting there.”
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Dr. Del Corro went into septic shock and was intubated the evening of Aug. 20.
“I was given special permission to see Bert because I was a nurse and did not have any symptoms. I got a phone call at 7 a.m. on Aug. 21, and they told me they were keeping him alive until I got there," she said.
“I was holding his hand when he died at 11 a.m. It is so, so painful when I think about it. I always thought he’d get better,” Ms. Del Corro said. "This whole thing is such a shock.”
A memorial service was held on Aug. 29 in Steelville.
Ms. Del Corro suggested that those who wish to remember her husband plant a tree in his memory.
In addition to his wife of 16 years, he is survived by his son, Andrew Del Corro of Ocean City; a stepson, Ronald Dale Lawrence of Parkville; a stepdaughter, Jennifer Caleb Sizemore of Lewisburg, West Virginia; a brother, Adolfo Del Corro of Manila; four sisters, Alma Mendoza of Pampanga, Aurora Macaraeg of Oklahoma City, Aida Sanford of Houston and Anicia Del Corro of Manila; and three grandchildren. An earlier marriage ended in divorce.