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Melbourne doctor with coronavirus reveals harrowing moment colleagues put him on a ventilator in ICU

A doctor admitted to intensive care with COVID-19 has relived the terrifying moment his own colleagues placed him on a ventilator as he fought for his life.

Yianni Efstathiadis, 34, said ‘panic and fear’ set in when he had to relinquish control as an emergency doctor to be treated as a patient. 

The North Hospital Epping physician, of Melbourne, was taken to hospital when he started to feel dizzy, ‘very, very lethargic’ and could not get off the couch.

His oxygen levels soon became so low Dr Efstathiadis ‘started getting worried’ and he was rushed to ICU.  

‘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,’ Dr Efstathiadis told ABC 7.30.

‘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’. 

Things started going south for Dr Efstathiadis on July 19 while he was on a fortnight-long break from work.

Dr Efstathiadis was tested for COVID-19 when he started to experience a fever, muscle aches and lethargy – but it returned a negative result.  

A second test a few days later confirmed his worst fear.

He and his wife, Britt Green, immediately went into isolation.

Ms Green is also a doctor at Northern Hospital Epping and was able to stay COVID-free by isolating at her mother’s house.  

Northern Hospital Epping ICU director Dr Anthony Cross told 7.30 having a colleague in ICU with COVID-19 ‘brings it all home, becomes very personal, because this could be any of us’.  

‘He was going into what we call respiratory failure. He was requiring very high levels of oxygen,’ Dr Cross told the program. 

‘His condition continued to deteriorate to that point that we had to intubate him, that is we had to put a breathing tube down his throat, and we had to put him on a mechanical ventilator… His lungs were not working.’

Dr Efstathiadis was given the drug heparin, which is being trialled to limit lung damage in COVID-19 patients.

‘There is nowhere else you can go after intensive care. Once machines are taking over your breathing for you and taking over your circulation and doing other things, there is nothing else,’ Dr Cross said. 

Dr Efstathiadis said he felt ‘very lucky’ to survive COVID-19. 

Across Victoria, 4864 people are infected with the infectious disease – 2291 less than the 7155 active COVID-19 cases reported on Wednesday. 

Daily Mail Australia reached out to Dr Efstathiadis and Dr Green for comment.

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