MGM Healthcare, a super-specialty hospital in the heart of Chennai city, today announced that it has successfully treated a 32-year-old male COVID-infected patient with the aid of Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)—a procedure that oxygenates a patient’s blood outside the body. It is an extremely rare occurrence as the patient was on ECMO support for a period of 72 days which makes him one of the longest ECMO COVID-19 survivor in the country.
MGM Healthcare runs one of the most comprehensive ECMO programs in the country, and has treated more than 200 patients on ECMO during the Covid times with Lung Transplantation wherever required. The ECMO treatment has ranged from a short duration of just two weeks to the above patient being treated for over 72 days on ECMO successfully.
Dr. KR Balakrishnan, Chairman-Cardiac Sciences Director, Institute of Heart and Lung Transplant & Mechanical Circulatory Support, MGM Healthcare explained about the case and said, “The patient Mr. Rajesh (name changed) from Chennai became critically ill after contracting COVID-19 on 18th May and was treated at another local hospital when the country was reeling under the second wave of the deadly pandemic. Due to COVID, the patient’s lungs suffered severe damage and he suffered from numerous other health issues after contracting the novel coronavirus which includes ENT, bleeding, disseminated intravascular coagulation and episodes of seizure. The patient even suffered from cardiac arrest during this time. The patient was put on ECMO in the first week of June and underwent tracheostomy in the second week of June to stabilize his health condition.”
Dr. K R Balakrishnan further mentioned, “When the patient didn’t see any improvement in his health condition, he was referred to MGM Healthcare and was admitted on 13th July 2021. He was brought to us with 100% involvement of the lungs and we decided to continue ECMO support to stabilize his health condition. The team then worked on settling his health issues one by one as we first placed a stent for distended gall bladder. He was given antibiotics to treat cellulitis on his right foot and he underwent regular bronchoscopy and was given antibiotics to treat his lungs which had severe infection.
Dr. Suresh Rao, Co-Director, Institute of Heart and Lung Transplant & Mechanical Circulatory Support, MGM Healthcare further added, “We continued to monitor him on ECMO and treated him with antibiotics as he experienced a severe bout of blood stream infection. The patient experienced bleeding at the site of stent placement which our expert team managed to address on time and resolve the issue. The patient’s abdominal issues were fixed over this long course of treatment. The patients who are induced artificial support for long period, they experience substantial variations. The body loses considerable immunity and there is always a higher risk of infection with the patient experiencing other health issues as well. The chances of recovery reduce a lot in such cases. By supporting him on ECMO, we could rest his lungs so that it could heal and start functioning.”
He further added, “We successfully managed to treat all his health issues proactively and the ECMO support was weaned off after 72 days. The patient has responded positively to the treatment and his vitals are currently stable. We salute the resolve of the patient as he and his family didn’t lose hope and fully supported him in the last three months.”
The patient’s family express their gratitude and said, “It was a testing period for us as we witnessed the worsening health condition of the patient during this second wave. We had almost lost hope but thankfully to the team of experts and support staff at MGM Healthcare Chennai we saw him battling and recovering and come back alive from the clutches of deadly COVID-19. We especially thank Dr. KR Balakrishnan for his meticulous approach and advice that led us to believe that Praveen will recover fully, come back home and lead a normal life.”
The patient is now undergoing active physiotherapy and has been discharged recently from the hospital. His health has shown good signs of recovery and he will soon be able to resume regular activities.
Dr. Balakrishnan further mentioned, “Experts generally suggest to put patients on ECMO support for only a few hours to a few days. In rare cases, ECMO support is required for a little longer depending on the severity of the health issues and the patient’s recovery progress over a period of time. ECMO has instilled hope and vastly improved the chances of survival for critically ill people who usually don’t respond well to other life-saving treatments. We are also proud to report rare instances at MGM Healthcare Chennai of two young patients who have recovered fully after being on ECMO support for a period of over 62 days and have been discharged from the hospital recently.”