A young emergency department doctor who was placed on a ventilator in the intensive care unit says he is lucky to be alive after catching coronavirus.
A young emergency department doctor who was placed on a ventilator in the intensive care unit says he is lucky to be alive after catching coronavirus.

Emergency department doctor catches COVID

An emergency department doctor who was placed on a ventilator in the intensive care unit with coronavirus says he is lucky to be alive.

Dr Yianni Efstathiadis, 34, told the ABC he believed he contracted COVID-19 from a patient at Melbourne's Northern Hospital Epping in July.

Yianni Efstathiadis in ICU with COVID-19. Picture: ABC
Yianni Efstathiadis in ICU with COVID-19. Picture: ABC

Dr Efstathiadis said on July 19, while on holidays, he started to feel ill with a fever, muscle aches and lethargy.

He had a coronavirus test, which returned a negative result, but when his symptoms continued he had another test which was positive.

He self-isolated from his wife, Dr Brit Green, and she moved in with her mother.

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"About five days later, I was getting really sick and very, very lethargic and couldn't really look after myself at all, coughing a lot," he said.

His wife called an ambulance after he told her he couldn't get off the couch or keep water down and was coughing a lot.

He was transferred to the intensive care unit when test results showed his oxygen levels were low.

"Even though I've seen that sort of stuff being done before, and I've actually put in tubes before as well, being on the patient's side it was just, for me, it was panic and fear," he said.

"I know all those stats about a certain decent percentage of people that end up in ICU with COVID don't leave.

"So as I was going towards ICU to get intubated, that was probably the most
scary thing."

 

Yianni Efstathiadis and his wife, Brit Green are both doctors at Melbourne’s Northern Hospital Epping. Picture: ABC
Yianni Efstathiadis and his wife, Brit Green are both doctors at Melbourne’s Northern Hospital Epping. Picture: ABC

Dr Green woke up to a text message saying her husband was being taken to the ICU.

"It felt like it was happening to another person. I don't think I've been so terrified in my life," she said.

"I had to tell our family, because all of a sudden I was the next of kin. I just didn't really anticipate that I would be making decisions for my 34-year-old husband about treatment.

"I was pretty scared that I might not see Yianni ever again."

Dr Efstathiadis said while he was recovering he heard about a man in his 30s who had died from the virus.

"It really hit home how lucky I was to have made it through. It sounded like
this person also had no other health issues or complications. So it was a bit humbling to know that I'd made it," he said.

"I was so worried that something would go wrong again, I guess, because he only got so sick towards the end of his illness.

"I've been very lucky."

Originally published as ED doctor catches COVID: 'I'm lucky to be alive'



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