Autopsy on Bengaluru COVID victim shows virus active 18 hrs after death

The virus was found in the mouth, throat and nose, the doctor who conducted the autopsy said

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Even 18 hours after the death of a coronavirus infected patient, the virus was active in some parts of the body, a Bengaluru doctor has said after conducting an autopsy on the COVID-19 victim for the first time in the city.

Dr. Dinesh Rao, head, Department of Forensic Medicine in Oxford Medical College and Research Institute in Bengaluru, said the virus was found in the mouth, throat and nose. Also, he found out that the victim’s lungs were “as hard as a leather ball”.

“I took up the autopsy to understand the disease process and its outcome, and to study if there is a need to modify the treatment protocols. Of the various swabs I took, those from the mouth, throat and nose tested RT-PCR positive, while there was no trace of the virus on the skin of the face, neck, or internal organs like the respiratory passage and lungs. That is because the lung surface was dominated by bacterial infections,” Dr. Rao was quoted as saying by The Hindu.

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Nobody was willing to join Dr. Rao in conducting the autopsy on the 62-year-old’s body and he did it alone for one hour and 10 minutes.

“The lungs, which are normally like a soft sponge ball, were more like a leather ball. They normally weigh about 600-700 gm, but this victim’s lungs together weighed 2,180 gm and the texture was leathery. There were blood clots and the air sacs were ruptured. It was shocking to see what the virus had done to the lungs,” he said.

“These findings indicate that artificial ventilation or oxygen administration would not have helped the patient. The patient required thrombolytic therapies that involve dissolving the clots in the body first. The air sacs were filled with clots and that had to be dissolved first,” he added.

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According to reports, the autopsy was conducted after taking the consent of the deceased’s family.

Earlier, five autopsies were conducted at PDU Government Medical College (GMC) in Rajkot. Last month, the doctors found out that the lungs had become as hard as a stone.

Dr Hetal Kyada, head of department of forensic medicine at PDU GMC, was quoted as saying in The Times of India, “In autopsy of patients with lung cancer, pneumonia, and TB, we find lungs turning hard but corona unleashes unprecedented damage. When you cut through a Covid patient’s lung, it feels as if you are cutting a stone.”