Covid doctor saves life of surgeon who gave him vital heart op 20 years earlier

A London doctor whose life was saved by a heart surgeon 20 years ago was able to return the favour when the surgeon was admitted to hospital with coronavirus.

Dr Shakil Rahman told of his joy at being able to help Venkatachalam Chandrasekaran, known as Mr Chandra, a cardiac surgeon at St George’s hospital in Tooting, recover from Covid-19 after he was admitted to Epsom hospital.

Dr Rahman, the lead respiratory consultant at Epsom and St Helier NHS Trust, had been operated on by Mr Chandra in 1999 when he suffered a sudden and near-fatal blockage in a heart artery in his thirties.

Mr Chandra was one of only a few surgeons performing a minimally invasive bypass procedure — with the heart still beating — that had an “incredible” recovery rate.

Dr Rahman was one of his first patients to undergo the new procedure.

The pair had remained in contact since and Dr Rahman was able to lead Mr Chandra’s care as he spent 10 days in Epsom hospital fighting the virus.

Dr Rahman said it was “an interesting turn of events” to be able to save the life of the doctor who had saved his own.


He said: “It was a great feeling to see Mr Chandra leaving Epsom hospital after recovering following admission with Covid-19 pneumonia.

“He was admitted by me, quite profoundly ill. An extremely kind doctor, a very well-known man, a heart surgeon with incredibly gifted hands.

“It was really joyful for me and the whole respiratory team to be able to treat him in his hour of need, getting him well and seeing him leaving hospital with his family encouraged by all the clapping and laughter.”

Mr Chandra told staff at Epsom and St Helier trust: “My family and I are grateful for your care in getting me through a difficult time. I am making slow but steady progress.”


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