A doctor became a Covid patient

A doctor became a Covid patient

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By Denise Grady for The New York Times |

Islam News – The New York Times journalist Denise Grady will soon retire from The Times after more than 20 years on the Science desk. For one of her last stories, she wrote about Dr. Tomoaki Kato, a renowned transplant surgeon who contracted Covid last spring.

In March 2020, Dr. Kato continued to perform surgery, even as hospitals in New York City began postponing operations to make way for the flood of Covid-19 patients.

“He had patients who would die if they wouldn’t get their transplants,” Denise said.

When he got sick, Dr. Kato, a 56-year-old marathon runner, initially didn’t worry. But things quickly worsened. His colleagues put him on a ventilator. Then, he developed sepsis. His kidneys began to fail.

As Dr. Kato’s colleagues struggled to save him, a waiting list of surgical patients clung to hopes that he would soon be able to save them. Because Dr. Kato is not just any transplant surgeon. (Denise has watched him operate in the past, and described him as a “magician.”)

Instead, Dr. Kato specializes in cancer surgeries where he cuts out an entire organ, removes the affected part and then sews the rest back in place. Once, he and his team removed — and then replaced — six organs from a 7-year-old girl with abdominal cancer.

In August, after a two-month stay in his own hospital, Dr. Kato began operating again. And he’s doing so with memories of his own experience at the fore.

Denise sees Dr. Kato’s ordeal as something of a metaphor for this past year.

“It’s almost like a capsule of the whole pandemic, the whole siege that we’ve been through,” she said. “You get an idea of how really awful this disease is, but at least, with Dr. Kato, there’s a good ending.”