- A doctor recorded a short video to show people what coronavirus patients who develop severe cases of COVID-19 see and feel before they die.
- The clip went viral on social media, with the doctor urging people to wear masks and protect themselves to avoid having to fight for their lives in an intensive care unit.
- “This is what it looks like when you breathe 40 times a minute, have an oxygen level that’s dipping well below 80. This is what it’s going to look like,” the doctor says, standing over a smartphone camera in full gear.
The global coronavirus death toll has nearly doubled since mid-October, with almost 13,000 deaths recorded on November 24th — a new record. As the number of daily cases has been rising steadily in the past few weeks, so have fatalities. The US alone registered nearly 2,300 deaths on Wednesday, just a few hundred short of the previous records from March and April. Doctors are saving many more lives than in the first wave of the pandemic, thanks to several breakthroughs that have allowed them to introduce new treatment protocols in COVID-19 therapy. But as the number of cases goes to record highs regularly, the death toll will continue to climb.
A doctor who has treated hundreds of COVID-19 patients in the ICU and has seen dozens die fighting with the illness shared a video that quickly went viral on social media a few days ago. In the video, the physician simulated the last moments that patients with severe COVID-19 cases experience before they die.
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“This is what it looks like when you breathe 40 times a minute, have an oxygen level that’s dipping well below 80. This is what it’s going to look like,” said Dr. Kenneth Remy in a video posted on Twitter a few days ago. The doctor was wearing the full gear for COVID-19 patient treatment, starting the video with a simulation of what CPR would look like to a patient lying on a bed. The clip has been viewed over 121,000 times since it was uploaded:
Please listen as this is dire. I don’t want to be the last person that looks in your frightened eyes. #MaskUp @DrKenRemy1 @WUSTLmed pic.twitter.com/qwb4eERlfE
— Kenneth E. Remy, MD, MHSc, FCCM (@DrKenRemy1) November 21, 2020
“I hope that the last moments of your life don’t look like this,” he says in the clip, as he looks from above the smartphone camera while handling a laryngoscope and endotracheal tube that are used to intubate people who can no longer breathe on their own or with the help of oxygen therapy, and who need mechanical ventilation. “Because this is what you’ll see at the end of your life if we don’t start wearing masks when we’re out in public.”
“This is not fear-mongering. This is real,” the doctor told People.
Remy, a 43-year-old ICU doctor, works at Washington University-BJC Health System in St. Louis. He has treated more than 1,000 COVID-19 patients so far and intubated at least 100 of them during the pandemic. He personally witnessed “at least 50 or 60” patient deaths. He said he created the video after seeing a “pretty high mortality in people dying” of COVID-19 in the ICU.
“The only way I know how to keep people alive, to keep people safe, is that they don’t get the disease in the first place,” he said. “I really don’t want to continue calling families to let them know that their loved ones — who were otherwise healthy a week ago — are now dead.”
“To be perfectly candid, I fully recognize that restricting the way we conduct our lives right now has been exceedingly difficult and uncomfortable,” Remy added. “But you know what is really uncomfortable? Not being able to breathe. Not being able to leave an intensive care unit. What’s really uncomfortable is being vulnerable in a bed, where someone is putting a plastic tube down your throat to help you, and you may not survive.”
“Once you get into a situation in the intensive care unit where you wear a breathing tube, your mortality rate goes way up.”
The doctor further explained that he’s worried that the current surge will continue to fill hospitals and put even more strain on medical personnel. He also explained that every time he intubates or performs CPR on a COVID-19 patient, he is “a little nervous of getting the disease.”
“I can’t tell you enough how that fear is real for me and all of my colleagues,” he said. “It seems odd, but the thought of potentially transmitting the disease inadvertently to those that I love the most in this world [while] doing the job that I have wanted to do since I was five years old is frankly terrifying.”
Remy is married and has four children. Many doctors and nurses like him are fighting to save lives every day while worrying about their own personal safety and trying to fight through the trauma.
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