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Sanil Kumar presents memento to nurses who cared for him at Aster Hospital, Al Qusais

Dubai: An Indian expat in the UAE with failed lungs has bounced back to life after battling for it on a ventilator for over a week at a private hospital in Dubai.

The lungs of the 56-year-old had failed after excessive fluid build-up inside the organ due to severe pneumonia.

For GS Sanil Kumar, who works at Dubai International Airport, the perils started with a cough followed by the onset of fever. He took some medicines, but the fever did not subside.

In four days, his condition worsened. “I could not breathe. I even found it difficult to speak,” recalled Kumar, who had a history of suffering COVID-19 related complications, including pneumonia, for a month, a year ago.

“Somehow, I managed to telephone my cousins. They came and rushed me to Aster Hospital, Qusais,”

Semi-conscious state

He reported to the emergency department in a semi-conscious state with high-grade fever and shortness of breath.

The medical team quickly ran a series of tests and diagnosed him with severe pneumonia. A CT scan revealed that his lungs were filled with excess fluid, said Dr Muhammed Shafeeq, a specialist pulmonologist at Aster Hospital, Al Qusais.

The team swiftly shifted him to the ICU and put him on high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) oxygen therapy to ease his breathing difficulty.

Dr Muhammed Shafeeq

“We started antibiotics and other supporting medications on Kumar. He had diabetes as well. We observed him for 24 hours in the ICU. But he showed no signs of improvement. Rather, his health deteriorated, and his oxygen saturation was falling,” Dr Shafeeq explained.

According to the doctor, Sunil’s respiratory system had failed. His lungs were not able to get enough oxygen into his blood.

Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome

“He had acute respiratory distress syndrome triggered by severe pneumonia,” said Dr. Chaitanya Prakash Prabhu, critical care medicine specialist, who intubated Kumar and treated him in the ICU.

“In these cases, if the patient does not respond well to treatment, it is difficult to revive him. I informed the family about his condition and took their consent to shift him onto a ventilator,” the doctor explained.

Over a week on ventilator

Despite having got transferred onto mechanical ventilation, it took a few days for Kumar to show some progress in his condition.

“He was on mechanical ventilation for eight days. Even after this, he required oxygen support. Gradually, we slowed down the supply of oxygen while monitoring his body oxygen saturation. Finally, he could breathe without difficulty,” said Dr. Shafeeq.

Though it is always heartening to see a patient recover, he said, cases such as Kumar’s brings a sense of purpose and joy.

Preventive measures

Highlighting the importance of preventing such cases, Dr Shafeeq pointed out that people with co-morbidities such as diabetes are more prone to develop severe illnesses following fever if not treated properly.

“In such cases, these people must consult a doctor and get the appropriate treatment early to avoid developing severe conditions. Also, people with any underlining lung condition can develop conditions that affect the respiratory system. So, they must be careful. Vaccination is critical when it comes to preventing the chance of developing these conditions. People who are at the risk of developing these conditions should take vaccines that protect them against influenza and pneumococcal diseases,” he added.