Three days a week, Dr. Philippe Douyon becomes the patient, as he undergoes dialysis at NewYork-Presbyterian Columbia University Irving Medical Center.
“I’m going in for dialysis, not as a doctor who is about to see a patient, but as patient who is about to receive dialysis,” said Dr. Douyon in a video diary he recorded for NY1. “Dialysis is when they essentially do the job the kidneys are not doing so well anymore,” he explained.
Douyon was diagnosed with kidney disease at 18. Days after graduating from medical school, he received a kidney donated by his dad. But about three years ago, his kidney function started to decline again.
“The original kidney disease came back and I was sort of in the process of getting a new transplant on when the pandemic hit,” said Douyon.
That put his surgery on pause. One study conducted last year found a 51% decline in organ transplant procedures nationwide during the pandemic.
“Because it was sort of an elective procedure, especially if you’ve got a donor, it was just not considered essential,” said Douyon.
So, Douyon hunkered down. He spent most of his time at home — seeing patients through teleheath appointments, but he still contracted the virus in January.
“[I] was hospitalized for two weeks and so that accelerated my kidney failure and because of that then I needed to go on dialysis,” said Douyon.
Although contracting COVID-19 pushed back his transplant once again, an end-date is in sight.
His surgery is scheduled for May. This time his cousin is his donor.
"People who donate organs, I mean they’re really unsung heroes, they're allowing people a chance not only to live their own life, but then again to influence the lives of so many others down the road,” said Douyon.
In the meantime, Douyon, a neurologist, created an online course called Take Charge of Your Brain in 30 Days. The goal is to inspire others to lead healthier lives, both physically and mentally.
“I understand what it feels like to not recognize who you are in the mirror anymore, to have take a bunch of pills and sometimes have side effects,” said Douyon. “To have to face your mortality. Those things allow me to connect with my patients in a completely different way."