Dr Mahesh Kumar Arora is a 63-year-old Indian anaesthesiologist who had been unconscious for two long months as he battled Covid-19. He’s not just a survivor – for doctors, he is a ‘medical miracle’.
Dr Arora, who treated Covid patients, battled the virus himself for nearly five months.
He had to be put on a ventilator and then an extracorporeal life support machine (Ecmo machine).
He was the second patient in the UAE who had to be transferred on this Ecmo – and the first one did not make it, his doctor said. He has indeed defied death and his survival story has left many in disbelief.
The anaesthesiologist at Lifecare Hospital Musaffah, and his wife 60-year-old Sudha Arora, a former teacher, both tested positive for Covid-19 in the last week of April. Even though Sudha was discharged from Burjeel Medical City a month after her diagnosis, Dr Arora’s condition deteriorated.
He did not have any underlying medical conditions. “I am not diabetic, no hypertension. I’m a non-smoker, and teetotaller,” Dr Arora said.
It is suspected that the doctor got the virus from other Covid-19 patients. “I did not have any reservations in treating such patients. It was something I was committed to wholeheartedly,” he said.
On April 23, he began showing symptoms and, by April 30, Dr Arora lost consciousness and was placed on ventilator and eventually an Ecmo machine.
“He regained consciousness only on June 28,” Sudha told Khaleej Times. “After being hospitalised on April 26, I saw my husband again only on July 1. At that time, he could not even speak. He needed the help of a speech therapist. His doctors and nurses are calling him a medical miracle.”
Dr Tarig Ali Mohamed Elhassan, the consultant cardiac surgeon who treated Dr Arora, said he was Covid-positive for nearly five weeks. And when he was on ventilator support, he was kept lying face-down to increase his chances of survival.
“Since his condition on the ventilator was not improving, he had to be placed on an Ecmo for four weeks,” Dr Elhassan said.
Dr Arora suffered multiple complications, including bleeding in the stomach and lungs. The virus had even affected his brain.
“Our final challenge was to get him disconnected from the ventilator and get him walking,” Dr Elhassan said.
Since he was unconscious and bed-ridden for so many months, they had to battle other complications as well, including critical neuropathy.
His muscles and nerves were not functioning properly at first. “He is now undergoing routine physiotherapy and, in a few weeks from now, he should be able to return to work,” Dr Elhassan said.
He had to re-learn simple activities, such as holding a spoon or even walking.
Treating Dr Arora was doubly challenging for the team at Burjeel Medical City as they were handling one of their own. “There were times I felt he would not make it, but our team of doctors kept motivating each other,” he added.
Following their recovery, Dr Arora and Sudha are pleading with UAE residents to avoid large gatherings, wear a mask, and maintain a two-metre distance from people at all times.
“If you go over the speed limit of 100kmph, you only have to pay a fine. For not abiding by Covid-19 safety rules set by the government, the fine is not money: It costs you your life,” said Sudha.
The couple appealed to people to abide by all rules set by the government. “What we went through was a heart-wrenching journey, but my faith in God never got shaken. Having a positive disposition does help, but you have to be careful,” she said.
“This can happen to anyone. There is a genuine medical and plausible explanation behind all the rules. Unlike other countries, the UAE is doing so much better to control the pandemic. People should not take it for granted,” said Sudha.
Dr Arora said: “I request people not to put their guards down until we have a vaccine.”