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Is sudden death after AIDS-related Pneumonia "recovery" normal?
Apr 7, 2013

My ex-partner was concurrently diagnosed with HIV and AIDS after a general practitioner suggested him an HIV test to find out the cause of his cough and difficulty breathing which had already lasted some weeks by then (he was unaware of his status). Just three days after his test results came back he ended up in ICU with pneumonia and immediately required mechanical ventilation. He almost died during mechanical ventilation ("clogging" of the tube, I was told). Overall he required mechanical ventilation for 8 days and an additional stay of two days at ICU (without MV) and 3 days in the hospitals general area. His treatment was not over but he was recommended to continue it at home (he was at a non-US public hospital) and he decided to leave on his own with his family during day number 16 since his entry to ICU. The doctors at ICU were astounded that he could make it and said that he was one of the very few to leave ICU alive considering the conditions in which he was admitted. After leaving the hospital he complained of getting really tired by walking or even sitting. Almost two weeks after leaving the hospital my ex-partner got a really strong fever, was brought again to an ICU, intubated, and ultimately died two days later. I dont know which medicines were prescribed to my ex (except for a bottle of Aclyclovir I glimpsed) and if he adhered to them. My questions would be: Is it normal for my ex-partner to have suddenly died just a few days after recovering from pneumonia and being extubated? Were his doctor and his family negligent by allowing him to leave the hospital? Should he have stayed a few more weeks recovering at the hospital? I understand that the answer does not constitute medical and/or legal advice, thank you very much.

Response from Dr. Holodniy

Sudden death would be unusual from what you describe, unless there were other ongoing medical conditions like underlying heart disease. An autopsy would have been more or less definitive regarding a cause of death.



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