My great love for science and my love for students saved my life
Anil de Sequeira
As a son of Goa and the grandson of the late Dr Jack de Sequeira and the son of the great businessman and politician Erasmo de Sequeira, I feel it my duty to warn the Goon people, my Goemkars, of how dreadful COVID-19 is.
I live in the UK and nearly died on Wednesday, September 9 from Covid-19. It was very touch and go. My sister who is a doctor and FRCS managed to get the ambulance crews to me quickly and had she not, the doctors in Intensive Care Unit, informed her that they may have not been able to save my life. The doctors and nurses at Royal United hospital in Bath, have been very impressed with my progress and I was discharged on Wednesday September 16 and settled in my home in Bath yesterday by an excellent ambulance crew.
When the doctors realised I have been an academic (Universities in the UK) for 26 years, 15 of those in leadership positions , a scientist for over 30 years, they contacted me to ask whether I wished to take part in a COVID-19 study they were running at Bath RUH. I immediately said yes and signed all the paper work.
They soon put a paper on my ward door as I was the only COVID-19 patient there – Excited – You got Plasma!!! Which is what I got. Bags of plasma kindly donated by COVID-19 male patients started being pumped into my body and so my journey to recovery began.
I was fortunate to be treated with Remdesivir and steroids which have shown to be effective in the treatment of COVID-19, and randomised to receive convalescent plasma as part of an ongoing clinical trial (REMAP‑CAP). I believe these contributed to my recovery from severe illness. Convalescent plasma is the liquid part of blood taken from people who have recovered from COVID-19. This plasma may contain antibodies that their immune systems have produced in fighting the virus. These neutralising antibodies stop the virus getting into cells. The treatments I received are believed to work in conjunction with the antibodies in the plasma to combat the virus. We do not know why as yet but plasma obtained from men contains 3 times more antibodies compared to that obtained from women.
I believe that is the power of my mind, my great love for Science and my love for students that saved my life. For me if I could get out of a hospital bed but not be able to continue my work with students then I would not wish to ever get out of a hospital bed again.
As Science has saved my life for a second time and the Royal United Hospital in Bath, first saved my life in 2010, I owe a great debt to science and hence any future scientific work I do will need to be ground-breaking. I am very lucky to be able to draw on a huge network of international scientific collaborators for my work.
For me, besides hand washing which I have always done as a scientist, wearing masks, it is the social behaviour element that is the most important bit of the jigsaw that is sometimes difficult to explain to the public and not getting through.
My love affair with Science began as a young boy, with my deciding to dedicate my life to science and the pursuit of knowledge and dissemination of the same to young people, in 1994. I have always known I have wanted to be a scientist from the age of 7. I was afraid and frightened as I had nobody to speak to. As I came from a political and business family from Goa and was expected to follow in the footsteps of my late grandfather and late father. I was frightened as all I wanted to do was hold a pipette. Science and I are conjoint Siamese twins only to be parted by death. In 1996, someone tried to take away the most important thing in my life – you guessed it, Science. I really thought that I would never have my last dance with Science. Luckily for me, I was and continue to be afforded the opportunity for many a dance with Science and continue to enjoy many a tango with Science. I just hope that my last dance with science will be as beautiful as Al Pacino’s Tango in Scent of a Woman.