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Profiles of Courage: Prakash Satwani, MD

BY Kadesha Washington

Over the past few weeks, we have featured the great works of our doctors, nurses, and care providers in the face of COVID-19. Their experiences varied, including treating COVID patients directly and providing psycho-social assistance to those affected by the virus. But for Prakash Satwani, MD, a pediatric bone marrow transplant physician at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, his experience with the virus was personal.

“My wife and I are both healthcare workers. In late March, I contracted COVID-19, and within a few days, passed it to my wife,” said Dr. Satwani. “We had moderate symptoms, including coughing, high fevers, severe body pain, and extreme fatigue. During our illness, friends and family delivered food and medicine to us and helped support our two children.”

Thousands of miles away in India, COVID-19 was in its early stages. Dr. Satwani was contacted by a personal friend/journalist who lives there. Together, they produced an educational video for people in India, which helped explain the virus, alleviate anxiety, and offer guidance regarding the improvement of symptoms. The video, made in Dr. Satwani’s native language of Hindi, circulated worldwide on WhatsApp, and received over half a million views on Facebook. He was also interviewed by various television channels in India and the United States.

In addition to helping the people of India, Dr. Satwani and his family also helped frontline workers in New York City. His wife Sunita, along with her friend Sonalika Ahuja, started a fundraiser called “NYUplift,” which provided over 500 meals for healthcare workers. 

Looking to help broaden the understanding of the virus, Dr. Satwatni enrolled in several COVID-19 related research studies at Columbia. One of those studies was particularly helpful, showing he had a strong antibody response. As soon as Dr. Satwani recovered from the virus, he donated plasma.

Dr. Satwani’s journey has also inspired him to conduct further research that will ultimately help pediatric hematology & oncology patients affected by COVID-19. “We have created a tri-state consortium with 17 prominent treatment centers in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. This collaboration will provide ways to improve clinical outcomes, quality of life, and socioeconomic and financial stress.”

We are thrilled Prakash made a full recovery, and we thank him and his family for all they do to advance patient care here at Columbia and around the world.


Have a story that you would like to share? We would love to hear from you! Send an email to Kadesha Washington at kw2718@cumc.columbia.edu.

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