A Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi doctor got a taste of his own medicine when he required urgent treatment for a collapsed lung. 

Dr. Harold Shim, who provides critical care to patients within the Emergency Department, found himself on the receiving end of the department’s life-saving care in October 2020, when a rare form of pneumonia caused his lung to collapse. 

Dr. Shim began to feel unwell towards the end of a busy shift. Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is a COVID-free hospital, but as a precautionary measure, he took a COVID-19 test, which came back negative. Suspecting it may be the flu, he went home to rest, but over the coming days he experienced a severe shortness of breath.

Worried about his colleague, a few days later Dr. Jacques Kobersy​, Chair of the Emergency Department called Dr. Shim to check on him. “When I told him about my symptoms, he told me to come in to get checked out. It was only then that I realized my condition was more serious than I thought. Luckily, I have tremendous faith in my colleagues, and I knew that our Emergency Department was the safest place I could be,” explains Dr. Shim. 

He underwent a number of tests and a bronchoscopy revealed eosinophilic pneumonia, a rare form of the disease. His condition improved initially, but a week later took a turn for the worse and following a coughing fit in the middle of the night, he returned to the Emergency Department. 

Dr. Ashley Alwood, a consultant in Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Emergency Department explains, “Tests revealed that one of his lungs had collapsed. His chest cavity was full of air, putting pressure on his lungs and heart, a potentially life-threatening condition that needed immediate treatment.”

A tube was inserted to relieve the pressure, re-inflate his lung, and to allow him to breathe normally. It soon became apparent that his lung wasn’t healing on its own, so he needed minimally invasive surgery to repair his lung.

Dr. Redha Souilamas​, Chair of Thoracic Surgery at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi says, “Dr. Shim had developed rare and unusual complications from pneumonia. It was decided that a video-assisted, minimally invasive approach was the best way to treat his condition. Our team cared for Dr. Shim as a colleague, and a friend – the way we treat all our patients. Doctors often have a reputation for being challenging patients, but I’m pleased to say that Dr. Shim was a pleasure to treat.” 

Following successful surgery, Dr. Shim has returned home to regain his strength and looks forward to getting back to work with a fresh perspective on how it feels to be a patient. He concludes, “This has been an incredibly humbling experience. I’ve experienced how our patients feel when they come to us scared and sick, and seen how quickly the team respond and offer the highest level of care. I look forward to getting back to work and building this experience into our approach to treating our patients like they are our own family.”

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