KOCHI: It was a do-or-die situation for Arjun who was suffering from breathing difficulty and lung distress for almost four years. He had to travel all the way from Rajasthan to Kerala for the surgery and it was not an easy ride for him.
It was on August 24 that the 20-year-old who lives in Jalore, Rajasthan, developed sudden chest pain and severe breathlessness. He was rushed to the hospital and it was found that his left lung had ruptured. It had led to the accumulation of a large volume of air causing increased pressure inside the chest. The doctors immediately put in a tube into the chest to decompress the air.
After three days, the chest drain was removed and he recovered. However, on August 27 he developed similar symptoms, and a tube was once again inserted. But his discomfort continued. Later it was found that he had a large hole in the lung which had to be repaired through surgery.
Arjun had experienced the same problem in his opposite lung three years back while on a holiday in Kerala and chest tubes were inserted but he did not get much relief. He was referred to Dr. Nasser Yusuf, a cardiothoracic surgeon in Kochi, for further management. He underwent surgery successfully and thereafter traveled back home to Rajasthan.
Recalling this traumatic experience, Arjun's father Rajan P who runs a private school in Jalore decided to seek the treatment of Dr. Nasser again. With a tube in his chest, Arjun and his family traveled by road for seven hours to Ahmedabad to catch a flight to Kochi. Despite the medical certificate issued by the hospital stating he was fit to travel, he was refused entry into the flight by airport officials because of the tube in his chest.
After a series of discussions with the airport authorities, 24 hours later Arjun was permitted to board a flight to Kochi. On arrival, he got himself admitted to Sunrise Hospital in Kochi. During a routine checkup, he was found to be positive for COVID-19 which came as a surprise to the family as they had come from a green zone. He was put in institutional quarantine and treatment for 14 days.
Thereafter he became COVID negative but the problem of bubbling of air in his chest remained. He had by now become weak, malnourished and infection had set in with pus draining out through the tube. Surgery was the only hope to save his life.
Taking into account the deteriorating condition of the patient, emergency surgery was performed on September 18 by Dr Nasser. There was pus in the chest cavity, the lung was densely stuck to the heart with multiple bullae (balloon-like formations) on the lung surface of which one had ruptured. This was the cause of air leak and bubbling.
The pus was completely drained, the lung freed, bullae removed and the hole in the lung repaired. The patient made a remarkable recovery and was discharged after a week.
According to Dr. Nasser, the surgery was further complicated by COVID which primarily affects and damages the lung at times leading to death.
"Operating on such COVID patients is a huge challenge. Usually, open surgery (30 cm long incision) is done which is accompanied by severe pain and delayed recovery. In Arjun’s case, we successfully performed a keyhole surgery of the chest (minimally invasive thoracic surgery)," said Dr. Nasser.
Dr. Shaji P G (anesthetist), Dr. Vineeth Alexander (pulmonologist) and Dr. Jithin Jose (intensivist) were also in the team treating Arjun.