Dr Sunil Acharya: “Lockdown might be over but Covid isn’t”

Acharya, a general physician at Paropakar Hospital, requests everyone to stay home if they can, for the pandemic might be anything but over.

Anushka Nepal

  • Read Time 2 min.

Kathmandu: Dr. Sunil Acharya, a general physician at Paropakar Maternity and Women’s Hospital, recalls a moment where he and his team worked with “every ounce of energy and faith we had” to save a pregnant woman and her unborn child. 

The condition of the mother, who was infected with the coronavirus, had deteriorated so much that Acharya’s team had to give her continuous Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), a lifesaving technique wherein the patient’s chest is compressed to ensure normal heart rhythm. All the while, the team was also conducting a C-section, the surgical procedure, on the woman to save the child.

All of the attempts went in vain. “We were not able to save both mother and the child,” Acharya says.

Acharya had to deliver this news with a heavy heart to their family.  “I have been on the other side of this door, not as a doctor but as a person whose entire family was infected and in a vulnerable state,” he said. He was able to empathize with their suffering because of his own experience. 

His own experience makes him very empathetic and emotional while talking to the patient’s family. “Every time I see a patient’s family, I recall my own state,” he says. This empathy pushes him towards treating all the patients like his own family. 

The 33-year-old physician has been tirelessly devoting his time to treat his patients for the past year. He started his work at the hospital as the only physician looking after the Covid patients. 

Acharya believes that it requires a united effort of everyone and not just the frontliners to control this pandemic

His work comes with a huge responsibility, laced with an enormous amount of emotional distress. Most of the patients he looks after are pregnant and in a “more compromised” state than any other patient. “I have to save not one but two lives and most of the time it gets very complicated,” he says. 

While the mortality rate of the mothers is low, he still faces the dilemma of having to choose between the mother and the child. “Sometimes we are able to save both, but sometimes we lose the child,” he said.

The choice he has to make between the lives of the mother and the child leaves him “completely disheartened”.

“It is even more difficult to relay this news to the family,” he said. But he does not allow this empathy to get the best of him. “Feeling emotional is human nature,” he says, “but I do my best to not let that come in between my work.”

It was a bit relieving for him when the number of calls that he received decreased after the lockdown was imposed, he said.

But it’s no time to remain complacent. Acharya fears that the number might rise again. “The rate of infection has not changed yet,” he said. “Lockdown might be over but Covid isn’t.”

Acharya believes that it requires a united effort of everyone and not just the frontliners to control this pandemic. “It is high time we became careful and stay within the house even though the lockdown is over,” he said. 

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