British pilot patient safely off life support

June 03, 2020 - 19:37
In the past two days, doctors have gradually lowered his extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) settings.


A doctor and nurse at Chợ Rẫy Hospital in HCM City spoon feed the British pilot patient. — Photo courtesy of the hospital

HCM CITY — Việt Nam’s most critically ill COVID-19 patient, a British pilot, came off life support on Wednesday morning, health officials announced.

Lương Ngọc Khuê, deputy head of treatment sub-committee of the National Steering Committee on COVID-19 Prevention and Control, said the condition of the 43-year-old, named Stephen Cameron, has made considerable improvements despite the fact that days ago, a lung transplant has seemed a likely recourse.

In the past two days, doctors have gradually lowered his extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) settings, a system that acts as an artificial heart-lung system, to the point where they deemed it safe to switch off the machine this morning.

The purpose of putting such a patient on ECMO is to give the lungs and heart a chance to recover, as well as to reduce the risk of lung damage and oxygen poisoning.

In a video released by Chợ Rẫy Hospital on Wednesday morning, where the patient is being given intensive care after being declared free of the coronavirus following treatment at HCM City Hospital for Tropical Diseases, the patient is fully awake and conscious after nearly two months in an induced coma.

He is now capable of holding a cup to drink, nod, smile and shake hands with doctors and nurses taking care of him.

Khuê noted that while the patient was off ECMO at the moment, his condition remains quite serious and will still be closely monitored, especially in terms of his lung infections and drug resistance.

“The patient will need several weeks to be completely independent of life support and gradually restore his motor functions,” Khuê said.

In the coming days, the patient will continue to be treated with anti-bacterial medicines to fight off bacterial infections.

However, the bacterial load in the patient’s body has greatly reduced, Chợ Rẫy Hospital’s doctors said.

His cough reflexes and kidney functions have also improved.

Physical therapy sessions will continue to improve his muscle functions and doctors will pay more attention to his diet and nutrition to suit his needs in the recovery phase.

Earlier, during treatment for COVID-19, doctors at HCM City Hospital for Tropical Diseases said the patient had suffered from the cytokine storm syndrome, in which the immune system’s response to the virus caused harm to his organs.

According to the health ministry, the British Consulate in HCM City recently requested to visit the patient over the next few days.

On Thursday, the treatment sub-committee will hold the fourth telemedicine consultation with leading doctors and experts to discuss the next stages of treatment.

Representatives of Chợ Rẫy and HCM City Hospital for Tropical Diseases also expect to have a meeting with his insurer in the UK regarding his medical bills.

Việt Nam waives the hospital and treatment fees for all confirmed Vietnamese coronavirus patients, but foreign patients treated here will have to pay.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Việt Nam has gone 49 days without any new domestic COVID-19 transmission cases. The country's total caseload currently stands at 328, out of which, 302 have recovered and no deaths have been reported. — VNS