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Man dies after getting three-hour erection from coronavirus

Nadine Carroll
·2-min read

A Covid-19 patient has suffered from a painful three-hour erection due to a rare complication of the virus.

The unidentified 69-year-old man from the US state of Ohio was diagnosed with the condition, known as priapism, while in hospital for coronavirus in August last year.

The patient was admitted to Miami Valley Hospital and diagnosed with Covid-19. After his condition began to worsen, he was sedated and placed on a ventilator for 10 days.

a man in a hospital bed being treated for Covid
A Covid-19 patient has suffered from a painful three-hour erection due to a rare complication of the virus. Source: Getty Stock

When his lungs began to fail medics placed the man, described as obese, on his stomach for 12 hours - a technique used to help get air around his body.

When he was turned onto his back later that day, staff noticed he had developed an erection.

According to reports in The American Journal of Emergency Medicine doctors believed Covid had caused blood clots the patient's penis.

Ice packs were applied to the erection for three-hours to try and reduce the swelling, but when this failed doctors resorted to draining blood from his penis using a needle, which proved to be successful. The priapism did not return. The patient remained sedated throughout.

He was taken to the ICU and eventually died when his lungs failed to recover.

As the patient was unconscious he could not communicate the level of pain caused by priapism, however the condition is known to be excruciating and can cause lasting damage if left untreated.

The patient is only the second known to have had priapism after being diagnosed with Covid. The other was a 62-year-old man in June 2020.

Experts say it makes sense the blood-related condition could occur as a person infected with coronavirus may experience a cytokine storm where their body's immune system goes haywire and creates blood clots, Dr. Richard Viney, a urological surgeon at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, UK, told the Daily Mail.

"In this patient, he had low flow priapism which would certainly fit with microemboli [little clots forming in smaller blood vessels] and this is one of the complications of Covid we see in many other organ systems," said Dr Viney.

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