When Muzaffer Kayasan first got COVID-19, he thought he was destined to die because he already had leukaemia. Fourteen months and 78 consecutive positive tests later, he is still alive and still fighting to get rid of the infection.

Kayasan, 56, has the longest continuous COVID-19 infection on record in Turkey, doctors say, possibly due to a weakened immune system from cancer. Despite being in and out of the hospital since November 2020, his spirits have been high.

Nine months in hospital and five months mostly alone in his apartment have cut him off from much of the outside world, including his granddaughter, Azra, who stays in the garden while he’s visiting, talking through the rear glass door.

Immunosuppressed coronavirus patients are at risk of prolonged infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome, according to a study published last year in the New England Journal of Medicine. Another from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society shows that one in four blood cancer patients produce no detectable antibodies even after receiving two vaccinations.

The positive tests make Kayasan ineligible for a vaccine, under Turkish guidelines that say positive patients must wait for a full recovery to receive an injection. Kayasan, who lost her sense of taste and smell during the ordeal, has asked the authorities to at least ease her confinement.

His son, Gokhan Kayasan, said his father had always been a “positive” person, but not in that way.

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