GP makes ‘miracle’ recovery from Covid-19 after saying final goodbyes to family

Emily Chudy
Wednesday 19 May 2021 08:23
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Doctor and mother recounts COVID-19 experience that saw her placed on special ECMO respiratory support and remain in hospital for 150 days

A GP has spoken about her “miracle” recovery after suffering from Covid-19 so severely that she said her final goodbyes to her husband and daughter over video call.

Dr Anushua Gupta, 41, was admitted to Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester on April 1 2020, and by April 4 her condition had deteriorated to the point of needing to be ventilated.

“Deep inside I was thinking that that’s probably the end for me now,” Dr Gupta, who is from Cheshire, told the PA news agency.

“Inside I was thinking I’m not going to be able to see my daughter, I’m not going to be able to see her entire adult life, I won’t be able to live my life with my husband. It was terrible.”

Dr Gupta, now fully vaccinated and on the road to recovery, said she wanted to share her story in order to tell people to “take heed” as we’re “not out of the woods yet”.

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Dr Gupta said she was infected during the first wave of the pandemic, quickly becoming so ill she started to experience hallucinations due to low oxygen levels.

She was transferred to the ICU for ventilation, requiring a medically-induced coma with no guarantee of survival.

“My worst fears were coming true. I telephoned my husband Ankur, and asked to see our daughter Ariana – just 18 months old at that time – on a video call, as I thought that I would never get to see her again,” she said.

“At that time no one was allowed any visitors, so all communications were over the phone. I was petrified.

“I just thought I needed to see her before I went on the ventilator, I didn’t know I would ever see them again.”

Dr Gupta was in the coma for two months, requiring a life support machine as her condition worsened still.

She said: “My husband was requested to come in to discuss further treatment because I was just not making much progress…

“At that point it was looking like I would probably not survive, a lot of the doctors are probably going to say it’s a miracle you are alive.

“It was really difficult for him to be told that possibly your spouse, your life partner, may not survive.

“Luckily after a few days I started to pull through, I started making improvements.”

She added: “Now I just appreciate life in a completely different way. Every day’s a blessing.”

HEALTH Coronavirus Hospitals

Dr Gupta was one of the first patients in the UK to be treated for coronavirus with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), special equipment that completely takes over the function of the lungs and is seen as a last resort option.

She has now written a case report for the journal Anaesthesia Reports about her experience, thought to be the first patient-written account of ECMO to treat Covid-19 to appear in medical literature.

Dr Gupta explained that while the ECMO treatment saved her life, her road to recovery was very difficult.

“When I woke up from the coma was I realised that I had no voice. I couldn’t speak, I couldn’t swallow, I couldn’t move my arms, my legs. I felt like I was paralysed,” she said.

“Being in the ICU can be very traumatising, you know when you wake up to all these machines… but I got immense support from every department, and every aspect of the team.

“I had so much family support from my husband, my daughter… when you come home you need that family support, because it just keeps you going.”

HEALTH Coronavirus Hospitals

Dr Gupta said that while she is at home and back to working remotely, her “recovery is by no means complete”, adding that she has suffered hair loss, which can happen to severely ill patients due to stress, steroid medication, or other factors.

She said: “I’ve had both the vaccines… but even then I am still a bit wary with this new Indian variant that’s out.

“I’m still a bit wary about returning to work fully, where I would need to see patients face-to-face, though I really miss it.”

I try to keep a very positive outlook on life, and I feel like I have been given a second chance

“I have significant changes to my lungs… I feel this may well be what others have described as ‘long-Covid’,” she said.

“However, this is also improving, and I am getting fitter and more active. My mental health is much better. I try to keep a very positive outlook on life, and I feel like I have been given a second chance.”

Dr Gupta said that she has returned to some of the things that bring her joy, including cooking and singing with Ariana, who is now two-and-a-half.

“My motive is not to provide anyone with a scare story or a horror story, but it’s really to let people know that this virus is very good at mutating and changing.

“It can affect very young people, and people who don’t even have any medical problems. It’s less common in people who have don’t have medical problems, but it has happened to many people.

“I think people should take heed still we’re not out of the woods yet.”

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