Egyptian doctor who lost eyesight while working at quarantine hospital to be treated at state's expense

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Thu, 14 May 2020 - 05:00 GMT

Doctor Mahmoud Samy at Kafr el-Sheikh Chest Hospital on May 13, 2020 - Egypt Today

Doctor Mahmoud Samy at Kafr el-Sheikh Chest Hospital on May 13, 2020 - Egypt Today

CAIRO – 14 May 2020: A doctor who lost his eyesight at a quarantine hospital owing to a heart attack and severe increase in blood pressure will be treated at the expense of the state.

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli decreed that everything needed by Doctor Mahmoud Samy to recover be provided at no cost of his, hailing him as a “hero” for working against Covid-19 in a quarantine hospital.

“We had 30-40 [Covid-19] cases transferred to us from Embaba Fevers [Hospital] in a day. We worked so much and wearing the protective gear affected us,” Samy told Egypt Today Wednesday at Kafr el-Sheikh Chest Hospital.

“Stress, anxiety and fear... all the incoming cases were frightening,” he said, also citing wearing protective gear for extended periods.

Samy worked at fevers hospitals in Kafr el-Sheikh governorate, the Delta, and was assigned to work at the quarantine hospital in Baltim, a north coast resort in the governorate. He worked there under extreme pressure for 11 days before he lost his eyesight.

He is now at an Alexandria hospital and is being contacted to be transferred to Ain Shams Specialized Hospital, French Qasr al-Aini hospital or any other hospital of his choice, according to a cabinet statement.



Samy was not a patient of high blood pressure but working under pressure at a quarantine hospital gave him a headache and extreme shortness of breath, he told MBC Masr on Wednesday.

He thought he was infected with the novel coronavirus and had a chest scan, but then he lost consciousness. He later tested negative for Covid-19. Surgical intervention may be required to remedy his eyes, he continued.

The doctor lost consciousness at about 9 p.m. on “a Friday or Thursday,” as he could not fully remember when exactly. He woke up in the afternoon the following day, noticing that he could not see.

Before dusk on May 7, Samy felt short of breath and had a headache. He waited in his room at Baltim Hospital until after dusk to perhaps feel better, but the two symptoms only exacerbated.

“I felt like someone was drowning me, dying. To the extent that I felt like throwing myself out of the window on the third floor. That bad, I could not take it,” Samy said. He asked for help from his roommate, a hepatologist, who took him downstairs to do a CT scan on his lungs.

Samy was told his lungs were OK. After he got out of the scanning room, he lost consciousness.

Several hours passed after his collapse as his colleagues sterilized an electrocardiogram to check the condition of his heart, and after that the machine did not work. They did the same with a monitor, consuming more hours. He was given drugs to lower his blood pressure at extremely high doses, but they increased the risk of clots, he claimed. However, he also said Baltim Hospital was only prepared to treat Covid-19 patients.

Three hospitals were contacted to admit Samy, but there were no available beds.
He was finally accepted at Kafr el-Sheikh Chest Hospital at dawn but received by three doctors who happen to be his relatives as others were worried that he may be a Covid-19 patient coming from a quarantine hospital. After making several tests, high blood acidity was detected, and he was given the due medications.

When he told the doctors he could not see, they decided to do a CT scan and MRI, but that, too, took a long time, Samy said.

His diagnosis is that the heart attack paired with the lack of fluid in his blood vessels due to the drugs given to lower his blood pressure, in addition to the slow process of diagnosis and treatment, all led to clots in the retinal area.

While he expressed his appreciation for the cadres in the Ministry of Health, he also said the system needs a lot of development, expenditure, coordination, and information sharing.


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