India’s first COVID-19 patient on ECMO support for 300 hours defeats virus, returns home

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Kolkata: A 24-year-old woman from Kolkata became the first COVID-19 patient in the country to defeat the deadly virus after being put on ECMO support for 300 hours over 12 days at a private hospital in the city. A resident of Kalighat area in South Kolkata, the woman was admitted to AMRI, Dhakuria on 17th May with high fever and severe breathing distress. While the patient had no co-morbidity, she weighed close to 100 kilos and was clinically obese.

The young patient was immediately put on ventilation but within 24 hours had to be put on ECMO support as her condition deteriorated. Dr Soham Majumdar, an ECMO specialist at AMRI Hospital, Dhakuria, said, “like normal ECMO procedure, we drew in blood from her body and re-oxygenated it by increasing the oxygen levels in her blood and re-infused it into her body to improve saturation. She was on ECMO for around 300 hours but now she is fit enough to go home.”

Earlier, at AIIMS, in New Delhi and a private hospital in Chennai both had COVID-19 patients on ECMO support but both unfortunately succumbed to the virus within a few days. With a first in Kolkata, AMRI hospital is hopeful this would be an important step in clinical management of the coronavirus in the coming days.

Dr Bhattacharya, Senior Consultant, Critical Care & Internal Medicine, AMRI Hospitals, said, “It is not always possible to clinically manage respiratory distress in COVID-19 positive patients with just ventilator support, and sometimes putting the patient on ECMO support becomes a crucial step. In the case of the 24-year-old patient, ECMO support was absolutely necessary and it helped us bring her back from a near-death situation.”

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