HCM CITY — The most critical COVID-19 patient in Việt Nam is nodding, smiling and even shaking hands with healthcare workers.
The British pilot named by newspapers in the UK as Stephen Cameron, has been in a coma for more than two months.
Although he is free of coronavirus, he suffered severe lung complications and doctors thought he may need a transplant.
But now he is on the mend, and staff at HCM City’s Chợ Rẫy Hospital announced on Wednesday morning his condition is improving and he was able to communicate with medics.
Identified as Patient 91 in Việt Nam, he tested positive for COVID-19 on March 18 and was on a life support machine for 57 days.
On May 20, he was given all-clear after testing negative for the SARS-CoV-2 seven times. He was then transferred from HCM City’s Hospital for Tropical Diseases to Chợ Rẫy Hospital for further treatment.
Trần Thanh Linh, deputy head of the emergency department at Chợ Rẫy Hospital, said the patient has not needed dialysis for a week as his kidneys were almost functioning normal.
His liver had also worked relatively normally, Linh said.
“Until now, he is still infected with Burkholderia cenocepacia, a type of opportunistic bacteria but the quantity of bacteria has been reduced, which proves that changed antibiotics work for him,” he said.
Patient 91 on Tuesday holds a cup when asked by a healthcare worker at HCM City's Chợ Rẫy Hospital. — VNA/VNS Photo
He said an X-ray image of his lungs on May 25 revealed tissue or fluid blocking blood vessels in both lungs but the one taken on Tuesday showed that more than half of the left lung has recovered and the right lung’s respiratory function had also improved.
Linh said that on Tuesday afternoon, doctors tried reducing intervention of EMCO on the patient but he would still need EMCO for the next few days.
Muscle strength in his arms has improved from 1/5 to 3/5 while his muscles in his feet improved from 1/5 to 2/5. His cough reflexes have become better. Respiratory functions improved and oxygen concentration in blood is stable now.
Earlier, the patient had suffered from the cytokine storm syndrome, which happened when his immune system overreacted to the novel coronavirus attacking the body, releasing too many cytokines, damaging his organs.
According to the health ministry, the British Consulate in HCM City has recently requested to visit the patient over the next few days.
His medical bills, which have already topped VNĐ5 billion (US$215,000), have so far been covered by the Vietnamese hospitals.
The British representative in Việt Nam said that the patient’s only known relative in the UK is working with his insurer, asking them to make reimbursements as well as extend his insurance. Việt Nam treats all Vietnamese confirmed coronavirus patients for free, but foreign patients treated here will have to pay the hospital bills.
Until Wednesday morning, the number of COVID-19 cases in Việt Nam stayed at 328 including 30 active cases and 298 recoveries. — VNS