UIC doctor helps fight COVID-19 in India: 'Right now it's terrible'

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Dr. Vijay Yeldani said he is seeing whole families sick with COVID. He's a Chicago doctor helping out in India.

No one is able to take care of each other, and hospitals are overflowing, he said.

"Right now it's terrible," Yeldani said.

Yeldani is a doctor at University of Illinois at Chicago, but now he's in Hyderabad, India, supporting the fight against COVID.

"Right now, they've got so many patients waiting to be admitted to the hospital that the only way they can admit the next patient is if somebody dies and a bed opens up," Yeldani said.

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Speaking via Zoom, the infectious disease specialist, who is also a member of the Chicago Medical Society, said people there are gasping for breath without enough oxygen.

"Nobody is even thinking about putting anyone on ventilators because by the time somebody is so far gone that they land on a ventilator, they rarely ever survive," Yeldani said. "So right now, they are simply struggling to get people some oxygen."

But hospitals can't get piping and tubing installed in time.

Yeldani said, in addition to the need for oxygen, India needs more trained people and more hospital beds.

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Dr. Rajenda Kapila, an infectious disease specialist and professor at Rutgers University who practiced medicine for 50 years in New Jersey, has died of COVID-19 in India.

He's also with a group called Share India, supported in part by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fanning out in communities to test the oxygen levels of people with COVID.

"We need to rapidly identify people at an earlier stage of illness, where perhaps something like Dexamethasone may retard their progression," he said.

But the Chicago doctor said the future right now is grim.

"It's going to get a lot worse before we think that we have anywhere near the ability to withstand what this is doing to us, to our society," Yeldani said.

Yeldani is fully vaccinated and hopes to return to Chicago Saturday, but he feels torn as India is desperately in need of help.
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