A 24-year-old highly obese woman claimed to have become the first COVID-19 patient in the country to defeat COVID-19 and survive after being put on Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) support for the past 12 days, sources in the private hospital that treated her said on Monday.
It is not always possible to clinically manage respiratory distress in COVID-9 patients with ventilator support and ECMO is the last option for them, an official of the hospital said adding that three coronavirus infected persons in New Delhi and Chennai, who were put on ECMO, did not survive.
The woman, who is from Kolkata”s Kalighat area and weighs around 100 kilogram, got admitted to the hospital on May 17 with high fever and severe breathing distress, a senior official of the facility said.
“When she was first brought to the emergency department at the AMRI, Dhakuria, doctors noted that her oxygen saturation had gone down to 34 per cent, causing serious concern,” he said.
Although she did not have any co-morbidity, doctors feel her obesity could be a reason behind her severe condition.
“She was suffering from high fever and sore throat since May 10. Though her fever subsided but it again shot up and she started having severe respiratory distress. She was put on ventilation, and the next day she was put on ECMO support after her condition started deteriorating,” the official said.
“She came out of both ECMO and ventilator and her survival is an important step in clinical management of COVID-19,” ECMO specialist at AMRI Hospital Dr Soham Majumdar said, pointing out that two patients at the AIIMS, New Delhi, and another patient at a private hospital in Chennai, who were put on ECMO support, succumbed to the virus within a few days.
“In the case of the 24-year-old patient, the ECMO support was absolutely necessary and it helped us bring her back from a near-death situation,” Senior Consultant of AMRI Critical Care & Internal Medicine Dr Mahuya Bhattacharya added.
A major threat to the lives of critically ill coronavirus infected patients is dysfunction of their lungs as, in that case, blood failed to circulate enough oxygen to the brain and other critical organs, and ECMO machines can be useful for treating them, according to a study published in a reputed international medical journal.
However, ECMO may not be that helpful for those COVID-19 patients who are older, who have comorbid conditions and whose heart function has deteriorated, the study said.