How a 12-yr-old boy beat all odds to survive COVID complications: A story that needs to be told and retold

After being infected with COVID, Shourya (12) turned critical and was put on ECMO therapy for over 65 days. It was nothing short of a miracle for him to make a complete recovery, his doctors said

Representative image
Representative image

Amitabh Srivastava

At the close of a year as terrible as 2021 when many us lost our near and dear ones to the dreaded Coronavirus, one realized that it was a time when the whole healthcare system just broke down.

Patients were being turned away from hospitals as beds were not available, oxygen was in short supply and life-saving drugs were being sold in black with impunity.

Under such circumstances, when one gets to hear the story of Shourya, a 12-year-old brave-heart from Lucknow who survived a rare infection from Covid-19 and came out victorious after a fight lasting for 65 days, one's faith in the efficiency and dedication of the much-maligned medical profession is reinforced.

Shourya, who was diagnosed with multi-organ failure due to a Covid-19 infection, was rushed to Lucknow's Midland Healthcare and Research Centre where doctors tried their best to revive him for about a month while his parents suffered fainting spells when their fervent prayers for their younger child’s well-being seemed to be failing.

Then, as if by a miracle, someone suggested that he should be moved to Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences at Hyderabad which was considered a specialised facility for treatment of diseases of the lung.

Under strict supervision and care of a team of doctors, he was moved to Hyderabad about two and a half months back.

Given his precarious condition, Shourya was kept in total isolation and his family could only see him fight his battle alone via video conferencing for a few hours when allowed by doctors.

It took as many as 65 days for the team at KIMS Hospital to declare that they had ensured the full recovery of the boy who had to be put on ventilator support for more than two months.

Doctors explained that Shourya needed Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) therapy. This, they claim, is the longest time any paediatric patient had been put on ECMO support for survival in the whole of Asia. Shourya had been on life support utilising a veno-venous ECMO for over 65 days.

According to a report published in India Today, "The doctors closely monitored other organ functions, enhanced nutrition, physical rehabilitation, and advanced lung recovery manoeuvres while the boy was on ECMO.

Critical Covid illness leads to multiple comorbidities, muscle weakness caused by medications used to treat the primary condition, repeated infections in the bloodstream, and secondary infections in their airways over and above dense non-resolving pneumonia. This is by far the longest reported ECMO bridge to recovery in a child for severe COVID pneumonia,” said Dr Sandeep Attawar of the hospital.

When Shourya arrived at KIMS, Dr Sandeep Attawar and the transplant team at the hospital received the patient with his lungs fully affected and they were unable to supply any oxygen to his body.

This was a rare case where a child with such severe lung infection had been revived without a lung transplant, doctors claimed.

“With ECMO support, his lungs rested, gradually healed themselves and regained enough function to be able to support him,” said Dr Vijil.

The first 40 days in Hyderabad were sheer trauma for his distraught parents because there seemed no change in his condition as they watched helplessly.

It was only later that his hands and body movements became visible as he had to undergo physiotherapy sessions to be able to withstand the physical strain of the train journey that takes him back to Lucknow today.

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