Houston-area ICU doctor who treated COVID-19 patients dies from virus

Dr. Carlos Araujo Preza, 51, of The Woodlands lost his life trying to save the lives of others.
In late March, Andrea Araujo says her father became the Director of the Intensive Care Unit at HCA Houston Healthcare Tomball.

"He was then sleeping in the hospital for weeks just to be there at all times and just to be sure someone was there taking care of his patients," she said.

It was a role he assumed without hesitation and wholeheartedly.

"He is not just a doctor, he's a friend to everyone he meets," Andrea added.

In late October, he contracted COVID-19. Andrea says her father was healthy and did not have an underlying health condition. However, within days, he was a patient of unit he headed and only able to text his family updates because he was too short of the breath to talk.

By mid-November, his condition deteriorated. Andrea says her father was transferred to the ICU unit at Houston Methodist Hospital.

"When he started having neurological problems due to the COVID  and so he could no longer speak coherently and afterwards he was intubated so we could not speak to him for those last two weeks of his life," Andrea painfully recalled.

Dr. Araujo Preza passed away on Tuesday.

"He always told me to stay home," Andrea added. "And, that's my message to everybody. You never think it's going to happen to you and it's really heartbreaking and it's something that I don't wish upon any other family to go through."

Andrea says her father was the epitome of the American Dream. He was an immigrant from El Salvador who worked hard to help her and her brother, Carlos Ernesto Araujo, Jr., get ahead.

"My dad always said that the most important thing to him and the reason why he worked so hard, the reason why he does everything, is for me and my brother," Andrea said tearfully.

Andrea graduated in May from Baylor University.

"My brother is almost done with his undergraduate career at Texas Tech," she told FOX 26. "So, I think that even though my brother hasn't finished completely, my dad is at peace knowing that his goal was will be achieved and that his hard work will pay off."

Andrea is proud of her father's legacy of compassionate care.

"Now I get a bunch of messages from people I never met saying, 'You don't know me but your dad helped my family. He was a great man. He was caring,'" she noted.

HCA Houston Healthcare Tomball sent a statement:

"We are saddened by the passing of Dr. Carlos Araujo-Preza. His clinical excellence, compassionate care and kindness will be greatly missed. Dr. Carlos Araujo-Preza touched so many of our lives and will always be remembered for his profound commitment to his patients. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies go out to his family, friends and colleagues."