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70-year-old elderly defeats life-threatening brain infection on life-support for 27 days

70-year-old elderly defeats life-threatening brain infection on life-support for 27 days

He had multiple life-threatening complications including intracerebral bleeding, recurrent seizures, Covid-19, pneumonia and herpesviral encephalitis damaging his brain. 

70-year-old elderly defeats life-threatening brain infection on life-support for 27 days 1

Sharjah: Anis Abbasbhai Cochinwala, a 70-year-old elderly expat in Dubai, has done the impossible. He has defied death. A bold fighter, he did not give up despite being on life support for 27 days suffering from multiple life-threatening complications – chronic heart condition, COVID-19, intracerebral bleeding, pneumonia, severe recurrent seizures, and the worst of all herpesviral encephalitis, a viral infection damaging the brain.

His recovery resembles one of the medical miracle stories in films. After a month on life-support system and undergoing rehab for about three months, Anis beams with full energy. 

Started with a fever and cough 

“It all started with a fever and cough,” said Anis. “It was a mild fever. So, we tried to manage it at home. We bought a home-kit to test for COVID-19. The test showed positive result. My health was good, so we decided to isolate at home and keeping a regular check on my health. It took about ten days for me to turn negative. However, a few days later, I got high-grade fever and cough. This time it was harsh. I became weak. My family noticed slurring of speech and rushed me to Aster Hospital, Mankhool,” he recalled. 

At the emergency department of Aster Hospital, Mankhool, the doctors found Anis to be in an altered sensorium state. Considering slurring of speech as an indication, they immediately performed an MRI scan, which revealed an acute infarction in his brain. He needed critical care management. 

Due to shortage of ICU beds at Aster Hospital, Mankhool, the doctors immediately referred him to Aster Hospital, Sharjah. He was transferred in an ambulance. 

Admitted to ICU

At Aster Hospital, Sharjah, Dr Mohammed Niaz, specialist neurology, attended to him and swiftly moved him to the ICU. 

“Anis has a chronic heart condition and had undergone a procedure five years ago. He had COVID-19 at the time of admission and struggled to breathe. A repeat MRI revealed intracerebral bleeding. Anis’s case posed multiple challenges due to his co-morbidities and age.We informed the family about the condition and the risk factors,” said Dr Niaz.

Seizures and brain damage

On the third day in the ICU, Anis developed seizures. Doctors suspected a case of encephalitis, a viral infection damaging the brain, and collected his samples to confirm the diagnosis. 

In between, the critical care team led by Dr Niaz managed to control the situation and started treatment for encephalitis. Aggravating his condition and making it more complicated, his respiratory system failed. The doctors intubated Anis, and he was breathing on life-support system. 

“Despite these challenges, we never lose our hope. We treated him with absolute conviction that his situation would gradually improve,” explained Dr Niaz. 

They waited for 14 days to Anis to show the first signs of recovery. There were no seizures, and MRI showed gradual improvement. Still, he was not out of danger. His other markers remained elevated. 

According to Dr. Niaz, his signs of recovery were positive. “It gave us confidence and emboldened our belief that we could save him. There was light at the end of the dark tunnel. We continued with the medicines to treat him symptomatically. Finally, after 27 days on life support system, Anis was shifted to room,” added the doctor.

Only half work done 

About a month on life support system physically and mentally drained Anis. He required long-term rehabilitation and physiotherapy. The doctors monitored his co-morbodities and continuously checked for other complications. 

After 40 days of admission to Aster Hospital, Sharjah, doctors sent Anis home. However, he had to continue with rehabilitation and physiotherapy to gain strength. 

It took about three months for Anis to become normal. Now, he can speak clearly and walk on his own without support. 

Miraculous recovery 

The recovery of Anis is a miracle for the doctors who treated him. Dr Niaz said the case was very challenging. “But Anis is a fighter. He did not give up after so much of suffering. As a doctor, it would be one of the self-satisfying cases I would cherish for ever,” he added.

A fully recovered Anis is healthier than before. “I cannot thank the doctors and the medical team at Aster Hospital, Sharjah, enough for their constant care and support throughout the journey to recovery. They stood by my family and remained a pillar of support during this difficult time,” he added. 


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