ECMO for 28 days, ventilator for three weeks: Delhi woman beats all odds to defeat Covid



NEW DELHI: A 47-year old woman, who was put on Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) support for 28 days and ventilator for 21 days, beat all odds to defeat COVID-19, a private hospital that treated her claimed.

Kumari Ranjana, a professor of mathematics from Delhi, admitted to Artemis Hospital in Gurgaon on May 15, was suffering from acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) with “air continuously leaking from the lungs and seeping around the heart, the chest and tissues under the skin”, it said.

“Survival chances of COVID-19 patients on mechanical ventilation, whose lungs are leaking air, are next to zero. We did not lose hope and, with the basic idea that a body part needed rest to get a chance to heal on its own, we took a bold decision. We decided to bypass the patient’s lungs by putting her on ECMO,” said Dr Shivanshu Raj Goyal, consultant, Respiratory or Pulmonology and Sleep Medicine at Artemis.

ECMO, which is akin to a heart-lung bypass machine, pumps and oxygenates a patient’s blood outside the body, allowing the organs to rest.

However, the encouraging results with ECMO didn’t last long, and Ranjana’s vital parameters started dropping.

With her condition deteriorating by the day, the doctors turned to a special “bovine surfactant therapy”, the hospital said.

“We finally took the decision to try out something that has hardly ever been used in adult patients till now ,artificially administer an element called pulmonary surfactant in the lungs of the patient. This element is naturally present in lungs but gets denatured or destroyed due to Covid, causing the lungs to behave abnormally,” the doctor.

The therapy, which according to the hospital, was used for the “first time” in an adult suffering from ARDS caused by severe COVID-19 showed dramatic improvement in Ranajana’s condition.

“It took Ranjana precisely 98 days in the hospital to regain her strength to talk, sit up, eat and even walk with some support,” said Dr Goyal.

Ranjana was finally discharged on August 20.

“The three months that I spent at the Artemis Hospital feel like a lifetime, but I am grateful to the doctors from the bottom of my heart for pulling me back from the edge. I look forward to a full recovery and going back to my routine life,” said Ranjana, mother of two grown-up children.

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