Dr Niyas Khalid examining Nitesh Sadanand Madgaocar at Burjeel Medical City during a follow up check up (1)-1638853264280
Nitesh Sadanand Madgaocar with Dr Niyas Khalid at the Burjeel Medical City in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: A 42-year-old Indian expat has beaten a rare and potentially fatal bacterial infection after struggling between life and death for 54 days at a private hospital in Abu Dhabi.

Nitesh Sadanand Madgaocar, a driver from the Indian state of Goa, was diagnosed with cepacia syndrome – a bacterial infection with a high mortality rate of 75 percent. Cepacia syndrome is a potentially fatal condition affecting the respiratory system combined with multiple organ failures.

“I am grateful to God and the doctors at Burjeel Medical City for this second life. When I fell ill, I had hardly thought that it was so serious. By the time I reached the hospital, my health had deteriorated considerably. I would not have come back to life if the doctors had not treated me well,” Madgaocar said.

Multiple symptoms

A resident of the UAE for 27 years, Madgaocar had returned to Abu Dhabi after a vacation in the last week of August this year. He soon developed fever and weakness while quarantining in his room in Musaffah.

On August 28, two days after the onset of fever, his condition worsened. Worried, Madgaocar had called up his employer, who took him to Burjeel Medical City, a quaternary care hospital at Mohammed Bin Zayed City in Abu Dhabi’s Musaffah area.

At the emergency department, Madgaocar presented with high fever, fatigue, pain in the joints, shortness of breath, and loss of smell and appetite. Upon medical evaluation, he was found to be diabetic, and had also developed pneumonia. His inflammatory markers were high, and he had tachycardia (faster heart rates) and crepitation (explosive sounds) in both lungs.

Intensive care

The expat was admitted to intensive care immediately because his blood-oxygen saturation level was critically low, and put on high-flow nasal oxygen. He was also administered intravenous antibiotics by the doctors to treat the pneumonia.

Initially, Madgaocar responded well to the treatment, and started showing signs of recovery. But before he could be moved out of intensive care, he once again developed high fever.

Rare diagnosis

About a month later, Madgaocar was finally transferred to a regular inpatient room. There, he developed abscesses on his skin and joints, and then on other parts of his body. Once again, his condition deteriorated, and Madgaocar developed acute respiratory distress and blood clots on the lungs. The care team also found abscesses in his liver, and Madgaocar was once again moved to intensive care.

Following thorough testing, doctors diagnosed a rare bacterium, known as Burkholderia cepacia, which had left the expat with rare cepacia syndrome.

“Our care team designed the treatment protocol and administered Madgaocar with antibiotics, along with inhalation and antifungal antibiotics and steroids. It took four weeks for him to get better,” said Dr Niyas Khalif, internal medicine specialist at the hospital, who diagnosed the case. He was assisted in Madgaocar’s care by Dr Georgey Koshy, the hospital’s medical director.

Complicated case

Madgaocar’s condition finally improved after a few more days of intensive care.

“This was a highly complicated case. But we are happy and proud to have helped him. I appreciate the team of doctors, especially Dr Khalid, for his timely diagnosis. Any delay in diagnosing the case would have cost a life. God has been great and kind to all of us. Madgaocar recovered completely, and he is healthy and fit,” Dr Koshy said.

Grateful patient

Madgaocar was finally discharged after 54 days in hospital. He explained how the ordeal had also been tough for his wife in India.

“She was scared, and praying constantly for my recovery. I had asked her not to share the news with my mother as she would panic, so my wife had to bear the pain and fear all by herself,” said Madgaocar, who also has a four-year-old daughter.

“The doctors who took care of me are now like God to me. My family and I will always remember them in our prayers,” he added.

In a statement, the hospital said it is still unclear how Madgaocar had contracted the rare disease. Cepacia syndrome usually affects immuno-compromised individuals, such as those with conditions like cystic fibrosis. In such patients, it can be fatal because of their overall condition. Madgaocar had been otherwise immunocompetent, and not on immune suppressant drugs or therapy, so the proper diagnosis and effective treatment had saved his life, Dr Khalid said.