The NHS Birmingham City Hospital cardiologist, Dr Arijit Ghosh, is best known as the medic who implemented a pioneering technique to successfully resuscitate Sarbjit Singh, a Covid patient who was declared clinically dead for 45 minutes.
As Singh, dubbed in the media as the “miracle man”, makes a full recovery and prepares for an intensive running challenge this autumn, iGlobal catches up with Dr Ghosh for our Frontline Series to get a low-down on the cutting-edge method and his overall experience of this remarkable feat.
Dr Ghosh, who was at the frontline during the Covid-19 pandemic, highlighted his feeling of accomplishment comes from the fact that he could save a 39-year-old man's life whose wife was five months pregnant.
The incident occurred in 2020 when Singh, suffering from Covid for 10 days, suffered a cardiac arrest at his home. This was when the mortality rate of Covid patients in the UK was at its peak. The paramedics could resuscitate him and brought him to the Birmingham City Hospital A&E under Dr Ghosh's care.
"At the A&E, the patient suffered another massive cardiac failure and stopped responding to resuscitation. So, I had to think out of the box," recalls Dr Ghosh.
His innovative approach involved the application of evidence-based practices.
"Time was running out. It had been around 40 minutes that the patient wasn't responding to CPR and was about to be pronounced dead. I thought, if somehow, I could get his heart rate going, he would be taken to the cath lab and get a fighting chance for his life."
The doctor was aware of one method successfully tried in labs in 1993. He called up those scientists and spoke with them until he was certain, he shared. Now armed with information and his experience, Dr Ghosh made not only medical history but also international news.
"The senior doctors in my team were not supporting what I wanted to do. They said whatever method I wanted to apply, I'd have to do all by myself, and no other hospital doctors or nurses could help me. But I was confident with my research of the evidence-based practice. I told them, let me try; what worse could happen? The patient was already dead," Dr Ghosh narrated the nerve-racking experience.
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Employing innovative resuscitation techniques, Dr Ghosh utilised advanced cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) procedures, including two automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and specialized airway management strategies. These modern methodologies and his extensive experience in critical care played a crucial role in restoring Singh's heart rhythm and reviving his vital functions.
Dr Ghosh shared that he had based his treatment on a pilot study of an ongoing research.
"The result of the ongoing research came out on November 6, 2022, in the New England Journal of Medicine. And it has supported what I've already done - using two defibrillators instead of one is much more effective in a refractory cardiac arrest," he said.
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To ease the medical jargon, a cardiac arrest when doesn't respond to three consecutive shocks given by a defibrillator is called a refractory cardiac arrest.
Sarbjit Singh's recovery with this novel technique by Dr Ghosh is noteworthy also because it was one of the first and rare few cases when Covid patients could be saved from heart failure.
However, the National Health Service medic, who has lived and served in the UK for 18 years, returned to his home country India.
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"I could never shake off this sense of being discriminated against. I was feeling stifled. Now that I'm back in India, I can speak freely with the media and treat patients effectively without waiting for bureaucratic protocols. I did not receive a single line of appreciation from the NHS since the incident," the experienced cardiologist from Kolkata concluded with a heavy heart.