Mumbai: Declared dead on social media, doctor recovers from COVID-19

Updated: Jun 26, 2020, 07:46 IST | Shailesh Bhatia | Mumbai

Family of senior general practitioner, Dr Vasant Shenoy, was flooded with several condolence messages after he was rushed to the hospital

Dr Vasant Shenoy
Dr Vasant Shenoy

Declared dead by the social media, a doctor residing in the western suburbs has come back to life, having successfully recovered from COVID-19 after a nearly three-week battle with the virus. While doctors fought to save him, his family had to deal with the flood of condolence messages.

The ordeal for the Shenoy family from Santacruz started on the evening of May 28 when 62-year-old Dr Vasant Shenoy tested himself for oxygen levels and found them to be alarmingly low. Dr Shenoy is considered as one of the highest qualified general practitioners in the city.

"I was totally fine, but to get a second opinion, I called up a few of my doctor friends. They all told me to not worry. My friend Dr Abhishek Bhargav diagnosed a suspected 'Happy Hypoxia' — a rare and deadly form of COVID-19 where a patient displays zero symptoms. Dr Bhargav advised me to rush to the nearest speciality hospital," said Dr Shenoy.

The next three-and-a-half hours were a frenzy of calling hospitals and trying to find a bed for Dr Shenoy, his wife and daughter. Panicked, Dr Shenoy then messaged local MLA Ameet Satam for help. Satam arranged for a BMC ambulance and a hospital bed within half-an-hour at Brahma Kumaris' Global Hospital & Research Centre, Andheri West.

"I can only imagine the plight of the common man. My wife and daughters, both being doctors, were left to making frantic calls to find a hospital bed and I, a doctor with over 40 years of experience and a former president and secretary of the Indian Medical Association, could not do anything either. Soon, rumours of my demise started spreading and people started pouring in condolences on social media, adding to my family's mental trauma," Dr Shenoy said.

Dr Shenoy's daughter, Dr Priyanka, later had to send a message to everyone informing about his health. "As you all know, my father, Dr Vasant Shenoy has been admitted in the hospital. As of now, he is stable and responding well to treatment. At no point was he on a ventilator, since everybody has been assuming this," the message read. When Dr Shenoy switched on his mobile phone after his hospital stay, he too received several condolence messages.

Rushed to the ICU, after the primary tests, the doctors prescribed an urgent course of five injections of the drug Tocilizumab. Five doses of the drug are given intravenously through saline over a period of one hour. This is to avoid a critical situation called Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome.

However, there was no stock of the drug available and the family had to once again call Satam for help. He managed to get hold of a chemist in Ghatkopar, who delivered the medicine worth nearly R35,000 for a full dose.

"During my stay, I witnessed Dr Girish Vadgaonkar, the ICU in-charge and Dr Jevdan Motlekar, both managing a team of medical professionals who were diligently working in double shifts since four of their own were down with COVID-19," said Dr Shenoy. Back from the hospital on June 17, he has been advised bed rest at home. He wants to resume his practice at the earliest.

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