Tense moment identical twin flatlines in A&E after Covid battle – as his doctor brother watches on

THIS is the agonising moment an identical twin's heart stopped while in A&E battling Covid – as his doctor brother watches on.

Dr Chris van Tulleken was working on the frontline when he got a devastating call about his own brother, Xand – who is also a doctor.

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The pair had returned to help their NHS colleagues after a decade working on other projects and would be filmed as part of a documentary.

But during filming at the peak of the virus, Dr Xand fell ill with classic coronavirus symptoms – a hacking cough, fever and temporary loss of smell.

He isolated at home for two weeks while Dr Chris continued working at University College London – which was at the epicentre of treating the virus.

Meanwhile, Dr Xand – who works in humanitarian aid – had started suffering from more severe symptoms.

Heart stopping

During the documentary Surviving the Virus: My Brother and Me, which aired on BBC One last night, Dr Chris can be seen on shift as his brother is rushed into hospital with heart palpitations.

After tests, the doctors discover his heart is beating in an unusual rhythm and his blood pressure is low.

Dr Chris can be seen calling their mother, as he says: "Hi mama. His heart's in a funny rhythm… I'll call you when I'm done."

He then enters the ward where medics are surrounding his twin brother as they prepare to shock his heart with a defibrillator.

The life-saving procedure stops the heart completely and allows it to restart naturally.

While Dr Chris has watched and carried out the procedure dozens of times, it's an agonising moment as he witnesses the burst of electricity surging through his own twin.

"Oh f***," screams Xand as he is shocked and jolts back on the bed.

The 41-year-old's heart then flatlines and for a few moments everything is tense as the medics wait for his heart to restart.



Incredibly, it begins beating again at a standard rate as tears start streaming down a relieved Dr Chris' face.

He admits: "I wasn't expecting the flatline for so long afterwards. It wasn't nice watching it being done."

Dr Xand eventually woke up and was discharged later that day.

After a few days recovering at home, he was able to return to filming.

Speaking about his experience, he said: "I got a real sense today of how unpleasant it is being ill. How unpleasant it is having stuff done to you.

"I'm obviously anxious about it as every time it happens I have to come in and get defibrillated.

"I'm frustrated and I feel uncertain. I feel apprehensive. If I knew it was going to keep happening and when and all the triggers, that would be a bit easier.

"But it might not happen or it might be something that dogs me for years to come, and I don't like not knowing."

Since the cameras stopped rolling in early May, Dr Xand has had another episode of heart palpitations and ended up in hospital needing shock treatment again.

He was discharged the same day but unforunately it hasn't solved the problem entirely.

Dr Chris told the Daily Mail that subsequent tests have revealed his brother has a worrying diagnosis – the common heart condition atrial fibrillation, which usually affects people over 60.

He's currently taking medication to stabilise his heartbeat, but at some point in the future he may need heart surgery to destroy the damaged tissue.


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