Recovering Dubai patient almost lost both legs after Covid-19

Businessman Sreenivas Rao was told he had a 5 per cent chance his legs could be saved but now walks 2km a day

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Reporter: Nick Webster. News. Indian businessman Sreenivas Rao told he would lose his legs after suffering severe complications from Covid-19 has defied doctors by recovering and now completes daily 2 kilometre walks. Sunday, February 14th, 2021. Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National

A businessman told he would lose his legs after suffering severe complications from Covid-19 has defied expectations by making a full recovery.

Sreenivas Rao, from India, was told he faced a double amputation after suffering a severe blood clot in his legs.

Mr Rao, who runs a printing and sports business, had just recovered from coronavirus in Chennai, where he had been visiting on holiday in October.

The virus hit the 50-year-old hard, and he was admitted to hospital with breathing difficulties and placed on ventilation for a week in India.

When he was released from hospital and put into quarantine, his health problems continued.

No one can believe how well I have recovered

“My feet were feeling numb and I was getting a lot of pain in my legs,” said Mr Rao, who lives with his wife and two adult daughters in Dubai.

“I had not long been out of hospital, so assumed it was related to the virus. I began to feel worse very quickly and suddenly it turned my life upside down.”

On November 23, he collapsed at home and was rushed into hospital in Coimbatore, southern India.

Doctors found that all his major leg arteries were blocked, so immediately performed an emergency thrombectomy to remove the blood clots.

After his recovery, Mr Rao retuned to Dubai on December 7, where he has lived for 24 years, but his health complications continued.

Mr Rao said he quickly lost use of his legs and could not even walk to use the bathroom or to the kitchen to eat.

Another trip to the hospital led to a second operation, a laparoscopic procedure to allow doctors to make a full diagnosis of his condition. But the news was not good.

“Doctors said there had been a tremendous delay in diagnosing the medical condition, and the possible chance of curing it through surgery was negligible,” said Mr Rao.

“They wanted to amputate my legs. I was completely shattered.

“I told them I did not want to go through with it. I sought a second opinion and another hospital said the same thing.

“I was losing hope, but I kept it from my wife as I did not want to worry her.

“They wanted to amputate both my legs, but I wanted to fight to keep them. They said I would suffer in great pain without the operation.”

Mr Raos sought several other opinions from hospitals across India, but was given little hope of saving his legs.

It was then he discussed his issue with the doctors at Burjeel Hospital, Abu Dhabi.

After several rounds of discussions and reviewing his medical records, doctors carried out a third surgery that involved multiple stent implantations.

Any other procedure risked further infection and amputation.

Mr Rao was admitted to Burjeel Hospital on December 27, 2020, and underwent surgery the next day.

The hospital's consultant vascular and endovascular surgeon, Dr Ali Keivanjah, said his rapid recovery has been “miraculous”.

"The blood clotting had affected all the arterial vessels of Sreenivas's legs, and there were some complications of the surgery he had undergone in India,” he said.

“We had told him about the risks involved. But he was very positive, calm, and composed.

“He has shown stupendous recovery and is now able to walk longer in a single stretch.”

Blood clots and resulting complications are not an unusual complication associated with Covid-19.

I want to make the most of the second chance I have of living an active life

According to researchers, an autoimmune antibody circulated in the blood can cause clots in arteries and veins. Those blood clots can then affect the oxygen supply in the body resulting in serious issues.

Mr Rao now walks for an hour in the morning and evening, although he still faces months of physiotherapy to fully recover.

“No one can believe how well I have recovered. I now want to give something back to my community, to encourage more children to do sport and exercise," he said.

“I want to make the most of the second chance I have of living an active life.”