The Curious Case of Two Chinese Covid-19 Patients Whose Skin Turned Brown

Chinese media recently reported the case of two doctors who got infected with the novel coronavirus while treating patients and suffered a drastic change in skin pigmentation, going from white to dark brown.

Dr. Yi Fan and Dr. Hu Weifeng, both 42, became infected with the coronavirus in January, while treating patients at the Wuhan Central Hospital. They were colleagues of Dr. Li Wenliang, the late whistle-blower who first sounded the alarm about the dangerous new virus and was originally reprimanded by the Chinese Government. They both would have shared his tragic fate too, if not for the valiant efforts of their fellow doctors to keep them alive. The two doctors spent more than a month on life-support and only regained consciousness this month, when they also learned that their appearances had changed drastically…

Photo: Beijing Satellite TV/YouTube

In a video report by Beijing Satellite TV, viewers were shocked to see before and after pictures of the two doctors, and their shocking change in pigmentation. They both went from having a very light skin tone to a very dark brown, which their fellow doctors say is due to a drug used in the early days of their treatment. Apparently one of the side effects of the unmentioned drug is a change in skin color.

Photo: Beijing Satellite TV/YouTube

Dr Yi, a Wuhan cardiologist, managed to survive Covid 19 after he was put on a life-support machine called ECMO for 39 days. This advanced system replaces the function of the heart and lungs by pumping oxygen into the blood. He told reporters that he was recovering well, but was still unable to stand up and walk by himself. He also mentioned mental trauma caused by the illness, and having frequent nightmares.

Photo: Beijing Satellite TV/YouTube

Dr. Hu’s condition had been much more serious than that of his colleague, and at the time the video was filmed, he couldn’t yet speak. He did however squeeze the arm of the doctor looking after him in a gesture of gratitude. A urologist, Hu had been bed-bound for 99 days at the time, and doctors said they were worried about his mental state.


Dr Li Shusheng, who has been monitoring Hu’s recovery, told Beijing Satellite TV that the shocking change in skin tone of the two doctors was very likely temporary and would return to normal as soon as their liver function improved. Both are also given mental health support to help them overcome the traumatic experience they survived.

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