Two Chinese doctors infected with the coronavirus while treating patients in Wuhan woke up with dark skin after they were put on life support. Chinese state media linked the color change to a hormonal imbalance after their livers were affected by the virus. More recent footage of one of the doctors showed the skin color change was temporary.
Earlier this week, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV aired footage of Dr. Hu Weifeng and Dr. Yi Fan, whose skin had turned completely dark while receiving treatment for the coronavirus. The two doctors were reportedly tested positive back on Jan. 18 and were taken to Wuhan Pulmonary Hospital before being transferred to two other hospitals, reports Science Times. Yi is a cardiologist who was hooked up to a ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) machine for 39 days. Yi told CCTV he was almost recovered and could move normally in bed, although he needed help to walk.
Two days after the original report, Yu was interviewed again and his skin color appeared to be back to normal, notes France24. Dr. An Chuc, a Paris-based doctor, told France24 the skin color change could have been caused by "the liver being unable to process waste," which itself could be caused by contracting a viral disease like COVID-19. "It often happens with viral hepatitis, and can be caused by drug poisoning too. However, neither I nor my colleagues have ever seen this happen to that extent," Chuc told France24.
Chinese media linked the color change to liver dysfunction caused by the coronavirus. Doctors in China noted that if the liver is damaged, iron could flow into the blood vessels, leading to an increase in iron in the blood. Long-term liver programs can cause yellowing skin.
Hu was in bed for a record 99 days. He was on ECMO therapy from Feb. 7 to March 22 and regained speech on April 11. Dr. Li Shusheng, who was treating Hu, suspected the skin color change was caused by a type of medicine Hu and Yi were taking, reports the Daily Mail. Li said the symptoms of the drug include darkening of the skin. He did not reveal the name of the drug.
There are now 2.8 million confirmed coronavirus cases around the world, reports Johns Hopkins University. There are 938,154 cases in the U.S., as of Saturday night. The U.S. death toll reached 53,755, while 5.18 million Americans have been tested.