Panchal, who owns and manages a chemist shop in Vikhroli, came down with a fever on April 8, around two weeks after taking one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine. The odds were stacked against him right from the start, said his physician brother Dr Harish Panchal, as Bharat developed lung complications in a span of four days. He went from high-flow nasal cannula oxygen requirement to non-invasive ventilation and ultimately to mechanical ventilation, all in a week’s time. His CT severity score reached 21 out of 25 at an alarming speed.
Bharat stayed on ventilator for more than 70 days, during which time he battled acute kidney injury, liver dysfunction, sepsis, multiorgan failure, lung rupture and even fought off a mucormycosis scare. “He suffered every complication that a patient could possibly have. This case has once again taught us that critical Covid care is not a 100-metre race. It’s a long haul where doctors and families must have faith and patience,” said Dr Arpita Dwivedy, chief intensivist at Hiranandani. This was the longest hospitalisation they have recorded in 15 months, she added. From plasma, remdesivir and tocilizumab to a range of antibacterial and antifungal medicines, almost everything in the armoury was used, doctors said.
Dr Panchal said: “Bed number 5 in the ICU had become a second home.” There came a point when Bharat had developed ICU psychosis and stopped communicating with his wife, son and daughters entirely, the brother said. Since he was moved to the non-Covid ICU by then, though, the family could meet him every day. “Those meetings made a lot of difference,” said Dr Panchal, who added that motivation from Dr Dwivedy and her colleagues Dr Sajith Babu and Dr Maheema Bhaskar, kept the family’s hopes alive.
Bharat’s roller-coaster recovery saw one last critical moment when his lungs started bleeding about a fortnight ago. “We thought that was it and we would lose him. But the doctors managed to salvage him by repairing the bleeding in a tracheostomy,” said the brother. Rajesh went home with minimal oxygen support. The family has spent more than Rs 40 lakh. Once the insurance was exhausted, they were charged according the government’s capped rates, Panchal said. The city’s public hospitals, too, have encountered cases where patients have taken unusually long to recover from the complications of Covid.
KEM Hospital dean Dr Hemant Deshmukh said they had eight patients who were hospitalized in the range of 89 days to 150 days. A 73-year-old Worli resident was the most recent to be discharged after 112 days of hospitalization. “Complications of the lungs and involvement of other organs make recovery a lengthy and complicated affair in some of them,” said Dr Deshmukh.