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Chinese doctors had their skin turn black from coronavirus treatment

Published Apr 21st, 2020 3:03PM EDT
Coronavirus Treatment
Image: CHINE NOUVELLE/SIPA/Shutterstock

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  • Two 42-year-old Chinese doctors from Wuhan, where the COVID-19 pandemic started, had their skin turn black due to liver issues.
  • A hormonal imbalance that may be tied to a mysterious treatment may be to blame for the change in skin color. The condition is expected to go away once liver function improves.
  • Both patients have been hooked up to ECMO machines for an extended period, with one of them having been in the hospital for 100 days.
  • Visit BGR’s homepage for more stories.

Just when you thought you had seen everything about the novel coronavirus and no news can shock you, you come over the photo below that features two recovering COVID-19 patients. Both of them are from China, and both of them are doctors who were infected with SARS-CoV-2. They’ve been recovering from the disease after battling it for months in hospitals in China. What’s so strange about these cases? The skin of both doctors turned black, possibly as a result of hormonal imbalances following liver complications caused by the virus. At the same time, however, the reports note that the two doctors have been undergoing a particular type of treatment that may be responsible for these bizarre side-effects. Unfortunately, it’s unclear what that medicine was.

According to Science Times, the stories of Dr. Hu Weifeng and Dr. Yi Fan were told over on China’s state broadcaster CCTV. The news was picked up by various other outlets, including The New York Post and Metro. All of them are leading with these images:

Image source: Science Times

The gist of the story is that both doctors contracted the novel coronavirus months ago, developing life-threatening complications that included the darkening of their skin. Interestingly, Daily Mail says both doctors were colleagues of the late Li Wenliang, the coronavirus whistleblower who was reprimanded for sounding the alarm, and who later died of COVID-19. Both doctors are just 42 years old.

They were given an unspecified drug at the beginning of their treatment. The drug affected the liver in the process, which explains their jaundice-like appearance. These side effects will reportedly go away and their livers will supposedly heal, according to a treating physician. But it’s unclear what sort of medicine these people were administered during therapy.

Both doctors were treating coronavirus patients at the Wuhan Central Hospital back in January, and they were diagnosed COVID-19 positive on January 18h.

Yi, a cardiologist, was hooked up to a machine called an ECMO for 39 days. That’s a machine that acts as an artificial lung and heart, oxygenating the blood of the patient. The doctor has started recovering and he can reportedly move in bed normally, but he’s struggling to walk independently. Yi said that the battle against the disease traumatized him, and he’s getting counseling.

Hu experienced an even worse ordeal. He’s been in the hospital for 99 straight days and his overall health is still considered weak. Hu was put on the same ECMO machine that circulates the blood outside the body to remove the carbon dioxide and replace it with oxygen. The machine kept him alive from February 7th to March 22nd when he finally came off it. At some point during treatment, the urologist lost his ability to speak. He started speaking again nearly a month later on April 11th, at which point he couldn’t stop talking to the doctors treating him. He’s still in intensive care in the same hospital where Dr. Yi is being treated. Hu is also supposedly getting the psychological help he needs to cope with all of this.

It’s always possible that something was lost in translation here, so we’ll just have to wait and see what the actual medical explanation is for these two strange coronavirus cases. If anything, they prove that the road to recovery can be extremely challenging for some people. Also, this is the first time we’ve seen this particular coronavirus symptom or COVID-19 complication. Skin issues have been reported, but nothing as dramatic as the skin darkening seen in the image above.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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