KIMSHEALTH employs ECMO for 44 days to save life of severe COVID patient.

KIMSHEALTH employs ECMO for 44 days to save life of severe COVID patient.

 A seriously ill COVID patient from the district has been treated and brought back to life by employing Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) — a procedure which oxygenates a patient’s blood outside the body — for 44 days at the KIMSHEALTH hospital here.

The 38-year-old engineer, who was in home quarantine after turning Covid positive, was advised through teleconsultation to come to the hospital after his oxygen saturation dropped suddenly.

The initial treatment was supervised by the KIMSHEALTH COVID team. The patient was given oxygen support and moved to the multidisciplinary ICU. He was then put on the ventilator as his condition worsened after he developed pneumonia and his lungs function dropped.

A multidisciplinary team, which comprised specialists from Infectious Diseases, Respiratory Medicine, Cardiology, Cardiac Surgery, Intensivist, Laryngology, Gastroenterology, Nephrology and Cardiac Anaesthesia, was constituted. The ECMO procedure was started under the supervision of Cardio-thoracic and Vascular Surgery Senior Consultant and Department Head Dr. Shaji Palangandan.

ECMO is employed for providing prolonged cardiac and respiratory support to persons whose heart and lungs are unable to provide an adequate amount of oxygen exchange or perfusion to sustain life, said Dr. Palangadan. It pumps and oxygenates a patient's blood outside the body, allowing the heart and lungs to rest, he explained.

However, through the continuous use of the machine its oxygenator loses efficacy after 21 days and has to be replaced. “The challenge was to replace the oxygenator in a matter of 24 seconds, which was done successfully. There is also the chance of blood clotting as a result of the continuous flow of blood into the ECMO machine from the patient,” Dr. Palangandan said.

Since blood was flowing through the external ECMO machine, infections were spotted in the patient's blood. However, the Infectious Diseases Department was able to tackle it appropriately.

Thereafter, the patient's health improved and he was weaned away from the ECMO machine and the ventilator. He then came back to normal and left the hospital hale and hearty. He had raised the money for the treatment through fund-raising and insurance.

KIMSHEALTH, which has done over 70 ECMOs, is the only hospital in the state to achieve this feat. The multispecialty hospital has also attained the international standard of 70 per cent success in ECMO.

Many patients facing life-threatening situations have been given a new lease of life by employing ECMO at KIMSHEALTH.