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May 28, 2021

IU Health pulmonologist recovered from COVID-19: “I wouldn’t wish this on anyone”

IU Health Methodist Hospital

IU Health pulmonologist recovered from COVID-19: “I wouldn’t wish this on anyone”

He was doing his job – working at IU Health Methodist Hospital with lung transplant patients. Then Dr. Chadi Hage became one of the thousands of Indiana residents who fell ill to the coronavirus.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes,

He’s an avid cyclist. It’s not unusual for IU Health Dr. Chadi Hage to cycle 100 miles a day and still have energy to spare. But in late March, his body began to feel weak. He spiked a temperature.

“I knew what to do because of my medical training,” said Hage. He didn’t wait. He connected with IU Health’s virtual hub, completed a series of questions and was tested for the coronavirus. What he didn’t expect was what followed.

“The illness was bad but the worst part was that my wife and daughter also got it,” said Hage. “It’s a professional hazard for me and I took every precaution to be safe but I thought it was the end of the world when they got it too.”

He removed his scrubs and shoes in the garage when returning home from the hospital, wore personal protective equipment on the job, and practiced safe distancing. But what many people don’t realize, said Hage, is that they are contagious before they even show symptoms of the infection.

Hage, who is a pulmonary-critical care and infectious disease specialist, treated his symptoms at home by drinking fluids with Electrolytes, taking Tylenol, and resting.

When he first became ill, Hage self isolated in his home. But within days, his wife began showing symptoms. Then his 19-year-old daughter also contracted the virus. The couple’s other two children, a son, 16 and daughter 14, remained healthy.

“My daughter was cooking for us and helping care for us during our home isolation,” said Hage. “It was the worst thing in the world when she got ill.” Of the three, Hage said his illness lasted the longest – eleven days of fever. He charted his symptoms during that time that included fever, night sweats, diarrhea, and severe dehydration. He lost 13 pounds in one week.

Dr. Chadi Hage professional photo

Hage began his residency and fellowship at IU School of Medicine in 1999 and began working at IU School of Medicine in 2005. He joined the lung transplant and ECMO program in 2012. In his current position Hage also sees patients needing extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a technique that provides heart and respiratory support. COVID-19 has been known to cause severe breathing problems and respiratory failure.

“I consider myself very healthy, but this is not a common cold or the seasonal flu. This is very serious. It’s like nothing we have ever seen before,” said Hage.

Now that he and his family members have recovered, Hage is back to work at IU Health Methodist Hospital. He also became a plasma donor.

Plasma donors must be able to prove they had a COVID-19 diagnosis with a positive, documented laboratory test. Donors must also be symptom-free for 14 days. The plasma can be stored for up to a year but most will be used before the 12-month mark.

More than 600 COVID-19 recovered individuals have been screened by IU Health for plasma donation and more than 245 have been identified as a candidate for donation and referred to the Versiti Indiana Blood Center. By helping with the screening process, IU Health is helping the blood center expedite the donation process to ensure enough convalescent plasma is available to hospitals for treatment of critically ill COVID-19 patients.

Dr. Chadi Hage at the hospital donating plasma

Researchers are evaluating the use of convalescent plasma as a means of treating patients who are seriously ill with COVID-19. Plasma from recovered donors has already been transfused to more than 30 IU Health patients. The plasma may also be used for patients who are at a high risk of progression of the life-threatening disease.

“It’s the way they used to fight infections before antibiotics were available – by providing passive immunity, in addition to vaccination,” said Hage, who is working on two clinical trials specific to the coronavirus.

“Since I have recovered I have developed immunity and may have enough neutralizing antibodies that can control the COVID infection if given to someone who is sick with the virus. The thinking is if I develop protective immunity I can help someone else by giving them some of my antibodies.”

His advice to others who suspect they may have the virus: “Don’t wait. Seek professional advice from a healthcare provider. Get tested, respect social distancing and wear a mask.”

Find our more:
COVID-19 Recovered Plasma Donation Evaluation Form

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