STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. (PIX11) – The life of one medical resident was left in the hands of his colleagues after almost losing his life and spending nine days in a coma.
Dr. Haadi Shuaib is finishing up his medical residency at Staten Island University Hospital, but never did he think he would be a patient at the same hospital he’s studying at and while on the job.
“I could rapidly feel myself deteriorating,” Dr. Shuaib said.
During a 12-hour shift doing hospital rounds, his sore throat and fatigue quickly worsened. Colleagues rushed him to the emergency department.
The fit and healthy 29-year-old was put on a ventilator, but it wasn’t enough. The extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine, or ECMO, then came into play.
“There was a concern about being fatal,” said Dr. Mangala Narasimhan, a medical director at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. “This is a pretty drastic intervention. It’s very invasive. We’re putting big tubes into your major blood vessels, so we don’t do this unless we think there’s no other option.”
The machine replaces the function of the lungs by pumping the patient’s blood out of the body then putting oxygen-filled blood back into the body to circulate. Dr. Shuaib’s heart got to pumping.
“As you can imagine, he has the heart of an Olympic athlete,” said Dr. Frank Rosell, a thoracic surgeon at Staten Island University Hospital.
Dr. Rosell said when he arrived at the hospital, he was expecting to find anxious relatives, but instead was met with teary-eyed medical residents worried for their colleague.
Dr. Shuaib was diagnosed with strep pneumonia. Doctors believe his body’s reaction to the pneumonia sparked his decline.
“That sometimes happens in young, healthy people,” Dr. Nirasimhan said. “They have a very good immune system and so they’re reacting to the insult that they have which is COVID or pneumonia and their reaction to the insult makes them very sick.”
Dr. Shuaib spent nine days in a coma surrounded by family who flew in from Canada.
“It was a feeling of incredible awe and gratitude when I woke up,” he said.
Once stabilized, he was taken to Long Island Jewish Medical Center for around-the-clock care.
It’s been one year since the frightening experience, and Dr. Shuaib, now 30 years old, said this near-death experience has changed his outlook to approaching patients and their families in rapidly-declining scenarios.
“It was definitely like a switch was flipped,” he added. “I always was the physician in those situations. I never understood what it was like being the patient in those situations.”
Dr. Shuaib also said this experience has made him encourage the younger generations to make those doctors’ appointments and go to those annual checkups to catch any preexisting conditions early because preventative medicine has become the crux of his focus.