‘How My Uncle Fought COVID-19 & Pneumonia for Over 37 Days’

To make it all the more mentally tormenting for us, he was unconscious on most of the days.

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My Report
5 min read
My uncle fought with COVID-19 and pneumonia for over 37 days.
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“The chances of his survival, and organ functioning, appear to be only 10-20 percent,” the doctors had told my father about my paternal uncle, who had to be rushed to the Emergency ward on 18 June.

Here’s a sequence of events of my uncle’s COVID-19 journey – his battle against the virus and then finally getting discharged – which spanned over 37 days.

Day 1:

My cousin called my dad around 5:30 in the morning that day. My uncle, Mukesh Goel, was finding it extremely difficult to breathe.

A relative, who is also a doctor, advised some blood tests and medicines, and we followed what he told us. But things spiralled out of control around 10 am, when he could barely breathe 30 times in a minute. We knew this couldn't be treated at home any longer. So, we called up Fortis Vasant Kunj but no ambulance was available immediately.

My uncle’s house is on the second floor, and with no lifts, it's rather horrid to explain how my father, aunt and brother carried him downstairs. His ankles and knees got hurt while being taken downstairs.

He was admitted into the Emergency ward at Fortis Vasant Kunj around 10:30 am, where the doctors found his oxygen level, which should not be below 90, had fallen down to 50. Blood tests, X-Rays and a COVID-19 test were ordered for him, as they suspected him to be a highly infected patient.

It was found that he had severe pneumonia and his lungs had been badly damaged by the novel coronavirus. As he could not breathe without oxygen support, the doctors shifted him to the ICU and he was put on a ventilator.

On 19 June, his COVID-19 test results came out to be negative. The doctors were shocked, because he had all the symptoms of the disease. We were told that we will have to shift him as the hospital was reserving all of its wards for COVID-19 patients. However, since his condition was really critical, we got no help from any other hospital to admit him.

On 20 June, we insisted on another COVID-19 test and it came back positive.

It was only in the coming days that we got to know that all his major organs, along with his lungs, kidneys, liver, heart, pancreas, had been affected.

They would focus on controlling one organ, and the others would show some dysfunction. He was not getting better, and his condition only kept deteriorating.

To make it all the more mentally tormenting for us, he was unconscious all these days. The staff would video call us once a day, and we saw him lie there, in a state we’d never thought of, in the worst of our nightmares.
He gained consciousness on the 23rd day of being admitted.
He gained consciousness on the 23rd day of being admitted.
(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

It was day 12, ie, 29 June, when the doctors decided to give him plasma therapy. Searching for a COVID-19 recovered patient was another task in itself. There are so many criteria that must be followed.

My family members and I took to our social media accounts for this search. I did not anticipate the kind of response we got. It was overwhelming.

We managed to find a donor who matched all the criteria. A friend connected us to the plasma donor.

These two people were nothing but God for us.

‘Lost Patience, Nothing Seemed to Help’

My uncle’s plasma therapy was successfully administered on 30 June, and we had put all our hopes on it. We thought we had almost defeated this, but sadly, the therapy didn’t give the results the doctors had expected. I’ll admit, we lost patience, because nothing seemed to help.

I don’t exaggerate here when I say that there was absolutely no light at the end of this tunnel. But what we still had left inside of us was hope.

Uncle at a family function in 2019.
Uncle at a family function in 2019.
(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

Day 22 :

We consulted more doctors and pulmonologists in Delhi. With their guidance and cooperation amongst the doctors, a tracheostomy surgery was performed on 9 July and the route for the ventilator was changed.

Day 24 :

On 11 July, he was finally brought back to consciousness. I cannot put in words, what it felt like to see him open his eyes after 23 days. With so much happening around the world, this was nothing short of a miracle for us.

Uncle was fed through the tube on his nose last week. The tube was removed on 1 August.
Uncle was fed through the tube on his nose last week. The tube was removed on 1 August.
(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

Day 26 :

On 13 July, another COVID sample was taken. We were expecting it to be negative, as it is told the virus stays no longer than 14 days in your body, Shockingly, though, he tested positive. This made very little sense. But we were assured by the doctors there was nothing to worry about.

The reason could be a false positive, or a trace of dead virus inside his body. Naturally, he still needed to stay inside the hospital.

Day 37 :

It was on 24 July, ie 37 days later, that he was discharged. He fought coronavirus and came home. Because of being on a ventilator for almost a month, he has developed a condition known as Intensive care unit-acquired weakness (ICUAW) which has restricted his body movements.

The battle is still not completely conquered, and he needs physiotherapy assistance to get back on his feet.

Uncle on the morning 3 August.
Uncle on the morning 3 August.
(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

To make things worse, my uncle is diabetic and is also a patient of hypertension. I will not sugar coat things, but there was a part of me that had lost faith in the doctors. But, as I type this down, I don’t have words to thank them. Not just them, but also a website called ‘Dhoondh’, who tried to help us connect to other plasma donors.

There are horrifying stories we hear almost everyday about hospitals, so I just have to mention there is kindness that still exists.

Their finance and non-medical staff was cooperative and accommodated most of our requests. Sure, we had our share of arguments with them, but I want to be grateful for all that they did.

(All 'My Report' branded stories are submitted by citizen journalists to The Quint. Though The Quint inquires into the claims/allegations from all parties before publishing, the report and the views expressed above are the citizen journalist's own. The Quint neither endorses, nor is responsible for the same.)

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