Doctors’ treatment protocols save patients severely ill with COVID-19

June 16, 2020 - 14:29
Doctors and scientists in Vietnam who have been using various therapies and medicine to treat COVID-19, a new disease that has no standard treatment protocols, have been able to save a number of critically ill patients.


A British pilot with Vietnam Airlines is recovering from COVID-19 at Chợ Rẫy Hospital in HCM City. VNA/VNS Photo  

HCM CITY— Doctors and scientists in Việt Nam who have been using various therapies and medicines to treat COVID-19, a new disease that has no standard treatment protocols, have been able to save a number of critically ill patients.

A 43-year-old patient, a British pilot with Vietnam Airlines, who was critically ill for months, is now being treated at Chợ Rẫy Hospital in HCM City, where he has had a "miraculous recovery", according to a report from the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control.

The patient has not had to use ventilation for 60 hours, and respiration has recovered. He is conscious and can communicate with doctors and nurses. His kidneys, heart, and liver functions have also improved.

However, the muscle strength of his legs remains weak. He has physical therapy twice a day, and no longer needs antibiotics. 

As of June 15, the patient had spent 89 days in treatment, the most of any COVID-19 patient in the country.

Before being transferred to Chợ Rẫy, he was treated at the HCM City Hospital for Tropical Diseases. His lungs recovered 30 per cent of their capacity at that time.  

Dr Nguyễn Thanh Phong, head of the HCM City Hospital for Tropical Diseases' department for infectious diseases D, told Việt Nam News: “During treatment, doctors at the hospital and Chợ Rẫy Hospital discussed new therapies to treat him.”

“We decided to use the anticoagulant Xarelto, which has never been used in hospitals in Việt Nam, to replace the drug heparin that had been used when he was on the ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) machine, which pumps blood out of the body and removes carbon dioxide and sends oxygen-filled blood back.”

“The patient was allergic to heparin, which reduces platelet count and causes bleeding, threatening his life. So the drug heparin was stopped,” Phong said.

The anticoagulant was used for 10 days until medicine imported from Germany arrived. 

The other severely ill COVID-19 patient at HCM City Hospital for Tropical Diseases was transferred from the Mekong Delta province of Bạc Liêu’s General Hospital on May 10.

After 23 days of treatment, she recovered and was discharged on June 1.  

“Her lung was damaged more severely than the pilot’s. She suffered vaginal bleeding. After treatment, her health was OK,” Phong said.    

The National Hospital for Tropical Diseases has also treated a number of severely ill COVID-19 patients.

In one case, the heart of a 64-year-old woman with COVID-19 from Hà Nội stopped beating on three occasions. An ECMO machine was used to maintain her life for 17 days. She also received dialysis treatment. 

At one point, her heart stopped beating for 40 minutes, but hospital doctors provided emergency aid in time to save her.    

After more than two months of treatment, her lung function improved and she was able to communicate with the hospital’s doctors and nurses. On May 27, she was discharged from the hospital.

Another severely ill COVID-19 patient, 88, was treated initially at the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases and then Bạch Mai Hospital for further treatment.

The patient, from Hưng Yên Province, had suffered an intracranial haemorrhage, which paralysed one side of her body, before testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 on April 14.

Because of her health status, the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases’ doctors and nurses had to frequently keep watch by the patient’s bedside to adjust her medicine.

The treatment helped the patient recover. Respiration gradually improved and ventilation was no longer needed.  

The patient tested free of SARS-CoV-2 and was transferred to Bạch Mai Hospital for further treatment on May 5.  

The woman was the country's oldest COVID-19 patient treated at a hospital.

As of June 15, Việt Nam had had no deaths caused by COVID-19, Dr Lương Ngọc Khuê, head of the Department of Medical Examination and Treatment under the Ministry of Health, said.

According to the Ministry of Health, 323 COVID-19 patients have recovered and been discharged from hospitals. Eleven patients are still receiving treatment.

Việt Nam has had no new COVID-19 infections via community transmission for 60 consecutive days. As of June 15, the country had 194 imported COVID-19 infections.

Dr Phong of the HCM City Hospital for Tropical Diseases, however, warned that the risk of COVID-19 infections in the country was still high, so people should continue preventive measures. VNS