A doctor has given horrific details into what it is actually like to have coronavirus after contracting COVID-19 himself.
Dr David Hepburn, who is an intensive care consultant at the Royal Gwent Hospital in the UK’s Newport, contracted the virus from a colleague.
Speaking to the UK’s Channel 4 News, Dr Hepburn relayed what coronavirus actually does to the body, explaining the disease causes respiratory failure and compared it to drowning.
“So when it spreads to the lungs, it causes what we call a pneumonitis, where the lungs become very wet and waterlogged inside.
“So the normal mechanisms that keep fluid in the blood break down. The little membranes and tissues and the bases of the lungs become porous, and that allows fluid to leak in from the circulation into the lungs, almost like drowning.”
The doctor explained ventilators provide pressure which “pushes some of that fluid out and helps to keep the lungs open”.
“So, people become exhausted because the work of breathing is so great that they basically become exhausted and die,” he said.
Dr Hepburn explained normally, lungs were like a sponge – “light and easy to move” – but if you have ever immersed a sponge in water it becomes wet and heavy.
“It’s exactly the same thing – if your lungs are absolutely sodden then it’s very, very difficult to breathe.
“What happens over time is people’s levels of oxygen fall, the levels of carbon dioxide, which is a gas you normally breathe out, rise in the blood,” he explains, adding this makes patients more drowsy.
“Then people will slowly develop worsening respiratory failure, and eventually they’ll become unconscious and their breathing will get more shallow and they’ll die.”
Dr Hepburn said the leading cause of death among the COVID-19 patients he had seen was myocarditis.
“Often when they’re starting to recover – the heart can become very adversely affected and they develop heart failure,” he said.
The doctor explained he had also seen patients die after other organs start to shut down.
Previously Dr Hepburn appeared on the BBC pleading with people to abide by the UK’s lockdown restrictions in hopes of slowing the spread of the virus.
Some of the patients Dr Hepburn has tended to at the hospital were in critical conditions, younger and fitter than he is.
“Certainly not frail elderly people that maybe some of us had been led to believe we would be seeing,” he said.
According to the BBC, Dr Hepburn was sleeping for 18 hours a day after he contracted COVID-19 from a colleague at the hospital despite being “fit and well”.
In the UK there has been 42,479 confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins data, and more than 4300 deaths.
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