Groote Schuur Hospital patient spends 106 days in covid-19 Intensive Care Unit | Western Cape Government

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Groote Schuur Hospital patient spends 106 days in covid-19 Intensive Care Unit

30 June 2021


Discharged a few weeks ago, Mr. Sarawat Ajam spent 106 days in the COVID-19 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Groote Schuur Hospital (GSH). While he was in the ICU his mother passed away, he missed his own birthday and was unable to spend the early days with his one-year-old great granddaughter.


Mr. Ajam from Mitchells Plain was diagnosed with COVID-19 after a positive test and admitted to the ICU at GSH. He collapsed on the day he visited the hospital to be admitted after experiencing COVID-19  symptoms. The 62-year-old is happy to be alive, “It was not an easy time being in ICU for so long. I am one of the lucky ones; doctors still can’t believe I made it. I believe there is a higher power that was with me and helped me to survive. I also had God’s angels, the nurses, and doctors at GSH, that was there to look after me. I am eternally grateful to them. When I woke up from my coma the only part of my body that could move was my eyes, nothing else could. I was shocked to see how many pipes was on my body. I did not know where I was.”


Mr. Ajam was in hospital for 6 months. “So much happened while I was in hospital. I am thankful to the hospital staff who always kept in touch with my family regarding my condition. The nurses would do regular video calls with my family. The hospital staff became like my family with my family.”

Professor Richard Van Zyl-Smit was one of the doctors who treated Mr. Ajam while he was in the ICU, “Mr Ajam was one of our longest staying patients in ICU. He challenged us at every turn – having severe COVID-19 on admission, which he thankfully survived, but then developing multiple complications simply from being in ICU for a prolonged period. He also became physically weak which further delayed his coming off the ventilator. It is testament to the whole ICU team that supported him – but also to his own courage and determination to keep trying to keep working with the physio’s to get stronger and to his family and friends who provided the additional external support to keep his spirits up. It is truly a remarkable story and one which we all hold onto in this devastating pandemic.”


One month after being discharged, Mr. Ajam is coming to the GSH Post COVID-19 Clinic for further investigations. “They wanted me to come in so that they could look at the state of my lungs. I went through everything in the clinic, including the lung tests. The staff are so helpful and could advise on my progress with my condition after recovering from COVID-19. My main problem is still that I cannot walk properly yet but with this staff by my side I will get to that. The clinic is useful, they show you how you have improved and show you the improvement. You get encouraged to get better and live a normal life again. I have a very good relationship with staff in the clinic because they still can’t believe that I made it and they are encouraged that I have made it out of COVID-19.


“I just want to tell everyone that COVID-19 is so real. We might have personal revelations but believe me it is real. I have lost relatives and friends to this deadly pandemic. Please adhere to all the precautions that is being advised by the state. Thank you to God I survived but it is important to remember that your behaviour to preventing infection is important,” was the advice from Mr. Ajam.


We can avoid a transmission chain from setting in by protecting our air space.

  • Avoid all large gatherings.
  • Avoid any social gatherings where possible.
  • If you need to go out to do activities such as shopping, always wear your mask and keep it short.
  • If you must meet, keep it outdoors, small, and short.
  • When indoors, dress warmly and ensure the windows are open so your space is well ventilated with fresh air.
  • If sick, stay home