Abu Dhabi: ‘Hero’ Covid-19 survivor returns to frontline after 450 days-long recovery

He suffered damage to his lungs, cardiac arrests, was unable to breathe without oxygen support, and was in a semi-conscious state for six months

Joyous scenes unfolded at Abu Dhabi’s LLH Hospital as colleagues of Arunkumar M. Nair welcomed him back to work after a gap of more than 15 months. It was in July last year that the frontline warrior got infected with Covid-19 and suffered damage to his lungs, cardiac arrests, failure to breathe and was in a semi-conscious state for six months. The operation theatre technician at Burjeel Holdings staged a miraculous recovery, and Nair was discharged in January. However, it took him nine more months to be fully fit, and return to duty after a battle of nearly 450 days against Covid-19 and the recovery phase.

“We are thrilled to welcome back Arunkumar Nair, our frontline warrior who fought Covid-19 bravely and made a remarkable recovery”, said John Sunil, CEO, Burjeel Holdings. “We look forward to providing him with continued support as he settles back into work and wish him all success for the future.” Since July last year, Nair was on prolonged extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) support and survived multiple cardiac arrests. After his discharge in January, he had hoped to get back to work soon, but was faced with a long road to recovery ahead of him. He was staying in a flat near the hospital, which the company provided to help him access medical support whenever required.

“I wasn’t in great shape. Basic daily activities were a challenge. Even going to the washroom alone was difficult in the first 2-3 months… [but] I had tremendous support from my wife Jenny for everything. It has only been a few months since I have been completely taken off oxygen support and started doing things on my own,” said Nair, a 39-year-old health worker from the Indian state of Kerala. During the recovery period, he also had a fever and long bouts of cough. Nair had a tracheostomy hole from his hospitalisation period that was covered with epithelial tissue, and it was not until a few months ago that doctors deemed him fit enough to undergo a procedure to close the hole.

Dr Tarig Ali Elhassan, specialist cardiac surgery, Burjeel Hospital, Abu Dhabi, who treated Nair, has been a constant source of encouragement. According to Dr Tarig, Nair is a fighter whose grit and determination have helped him recover from a life-threatening illness.

“He has shown great improvement in these last few months. [I’m] happy to see him in better health; healing is an ongoing process and we hope that he will be able to regain his pre-Covid state of health,” he said. Nair turned emotional when he described the support he received from his hospital and Burjeel Holdings. “I received excellent support from the management that has encouraged me to [move] forward. I don’t have [the] words to describe it. With the support and encouragement of the management, doctors, and my colleagues, I am in this position today. They were so considerate that they even arranged for me to be picked up during follow-up appointments.” While he was getting discharged from the hospital last January, his colleagues gathered in the hospital to celebrate his miraculous comeback. In a function arranged by the hospital staff, Burjeel Holdings’ management rewarded him with 5,000,000 Indian rupees. His wife, Jenny, is grateful for the support the family has received from those around them during this challenging period.

“During the months he spent at home, there were times he would feel really low. His colleagues from the hospital visited us at home and encouraged him a lot; he’s definitely in a better frame of mind now,” she said. Jenny, a nurse, is waiting for her husband to get settled at work so she too can start working. Their son Arjun has been a ray of light in these tough circumstances. Seeing his son laugh and play daily has brought Nair a lot of positive energy.

“When I was admitted to the hospital, I had a deep desire to put him on my lap and play with him. In these last few months, he has been with me day and night. I consider this to be a big blessing in this difficult time,” Nair said. With Jenny’s help, Nair has started going for daily walks and engaging in light strength training at home. He remains eager to get back into the swing of things.

“The last few months have been a difficult experience mentally. I am certain that my daily activities and work will improve my mental and physical health. Seeing the world getting back to normal by easing restrictions gives me hope. At work, I was someone with a lot of responsibilities. I know I have limitations, but I am eager to take up all my duties again, work with the same zeal, and give it my best effort,” Nair added.

Read Full Story: Khaleej Times