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‘Monika More has no antibodies despite getting Covid-19’

Updated on: 10 August,2021 07:03 PM IST  |  Mumbai
Somita Pal |

The 23-year-old, who underwent hand transplant surgery last year, is part of study on such patients and their response to Covid-19

‘Monika More has no antibodies despite getting Covid-19’

Monika More had spent four weeks at Global Hospital last year when she underwent the hand transplant surgery. File pic

For 23-year-old Monika More, who underwent a transplant surgery last year after losing both her hands in a railway accident, the novel Coronavirus infection she developed earlier this year was a mild one.

What seems to be a cause for concern, however, is that she hasn’t developed any antibodies. The Kurla resident is part of a global study on how transplant patients are prone to the virus, as they are immunosuppressed and also because they don’t develop antibodies. The study will soon be published in a medical journal.

More lost her hands in 2014. While she was managing with artificial ones, on August 28, 2020, she underwent a transplant surgery after a brain-dead patient’s family in Chennai donated the hands.

Negative for antibodies

“More and her entire family got Covid-19 in April this year. While she had mild symptoms with stable laboratory parametres, we decided to manage her health at home,” said Dr Shruti Tapiawala, her transplant physician. In mid-May, when More recovered from Covid-19, she was told to follow up at Global Hospital with an antibody test, she added.

“This was to know how much she was naturally protected from Covid-19 post-recovery. Surprisingly, it was negative. We asked her to repeat the antibody test this month because of the late response seen in some people. Again, while her family has antibodies, she doesn’t.”

More has started her hand movements and is undergoing extensive physiotherapy every. She will get the vaccinated next week, said her doctors. Dr Tapiawala said, “We’ve told her that she faces the risk of getting Covid-19 again and should take all precautions.”  

Dr Nilesh Satbhai, More’s transplant surgeon at Global Hospital, said the study, which was submitted for a medical journal publication, was done to see the impact of Covid-19 on transplant recipients.

More prone to Covid

Dr Satbhai said, “It was observed that transplant patients are naturally more prone to getting the infection as they are immunosuppressed. But, because they are on immunosuppressants (steroids), patients had mild symptoms and recovered well.” He explained that in Covid-19, the cytokine storm has been responsible for many deaths in the general population. “The most effective drugs to reduce the cytokine storm are steroids. Since transplant patients were on immunosuppressants, the cytokine storm was mild and less fatal,” said Dr Satbhai.

Dr Tapiawala said that people who were immunocompromised should be more careful as they could get the infection again. 

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