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Wuhan doctor whose skin turned dark due to Covid-19 medicine sees color return to normal after beating virus

Dr. Yi Fan and his colleague Dr. Hu Weifeng, both 42, caught the coronavirus while treating patients at the Wuhan Central Hospital in January
UPDATED MAY 12, 2020
Yi Fan (Beijing TV Station)
Yi Fan (Beijing TV Station)

A Chinese doctor whose skin turned dark after falling critically ill with the novel coronavirus has recovered and is seeing his color return gradually. MEA WorldWide (MEAWW) previously reported that Dr. Yi Fan and his colleague Dr. Hu Weifeng, both 42, had caught Covid-19 while treating patients at the Wuhan Central Hospital in January.

They were initially taken to the Wuhan Pulmonary Hospital before being transferred to Tongji Hospital's Zhongfa Xincheng branch, where they saw their skin turn abnormally dark. Doctors said it was caused by hormonal imbalances after their livers had been damaged by the virus. 

Fan is said to have been discharged last week after he beat the disease, and a spokesperson said his skin color is now returning to normal. The spokesperson revealed that the darkening was caused not by hormonal imbalance, but by an antibiotic he had received while undergoing treatment.

Dr. Li Shusheng, who treated Weifeng, had previously said that he, too, suspected the doctors' skin had turned dark due to a type of medicine they had received.

Prof Duan Jun, the deputy director of the Department of Critical Care Medicine at China-Japan Friendship Hospital, whose team had helped treat Fan and Weifeng, said they had given both of them Hu Polymyxin B as a last-resort antibiotic.

He shared that the drug had caused hyper-pigmentation in the doctors' body but that the condition would slowly disappear as they recovered.

Dr. Hu Weifeng has still not recovered from Covid-19 (Beijing TV Station)

Fan had managed to fight off Covid-19 after doctors took the drastic step of hooking him up to an ECMO machine. ECMO, which stands for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, involves pumping and oxygenation of the patient's blood outside the body so their hearts and lungs get a chance to rest.

He had spoken to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV from his hospital bed last month and said he could move in bed normally but that he was struggling to walk independently. "When I first gained consciousness, especially after I got to know about my condition, I felt scared. I had nightmares often," he said.

He had also expressed concern for his "comrade," Weifeng, who was still unable to speak at the time due to his poor health.

Fan's spokesperson said Weifeng was still hospitalized, indicating that there had not been too much of an improvement in his condition in the past few weeks.

Weifeng's condition was reportedly more serious and the 42-year-old has not yet made a complete recovery despite spending more than 100 days on the hospital bed. He underwent ECMO therapy from February 7 to March 22 and only regained his ability to speak on April 11.

He was still being looked after in an intensive care ward and Shusheng had said he was concerned for the doctor's mental health.

"He could not stop talking to the doctors who come to check on him," he said.

Fan and Weifeng were both colleagues with Li Wenliang, a 34-year-old ophthalmologist who also worked at the Wuhan Central Hospital and had tried to warn of an outbreak as early as in December.

He eventually caught the virus and died in February, but not before he was accused by Chinese officials of "spreading rumors" that had "severely disturbed the social order" and forced into signing a statement admitting to "illegal behavior."