British pilot to return home soon: doctors

June 23, 2020 - 06:13

Việt Nam’s most critically ill COVID-19 patient, a British pilot with Vietnam Airlines, is expected to be discharged from the hospital and return to the UK soon, doctors at Chợ Rẫy Hospital have said.

Watch our video on the miraculous recovery of British pilot Stephen Cameron
Thu ​Hằng

HCM CITY — Việt Nam’s most critically ill COVID-19 patient, a British pilot with Vietnam Airlines named Stephen Cameron, is expected to be discharged from the hospital and return to the UK soon, doctors at Chợ Rẫy Hospital have said.

“He now can leave the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for rehabilitation and return to his homeland as soon as necessary procedures that make it possible for him to leave are completed,” said Assoc Prof Phạm Thị Ngọc Thảo, deputy director of the hospital in HCM City.

“His lung capacity has reached 85 per cent, and the lung infection is completely clear," Thảo said at a meeting on Monday.

A British pilot with Vietnam Airlines, Việt Nam’s most critically ill COVID-19 patient, will be be discharged from the hospital and return home soon. — Photo courtesy of Chợ Rẫy Hospital

The Scotsman's heart, liver and kidney functions have fully recovered, she said.

He can communicate well with medical workers and no longer needs assistance from a ventilator to breathe, she added.

The 43-year-old is taking part in a rehabilitation regimen to regain the strength and recovery of his hands. His muscle strength in his feet is good.

He can write, eat and use his mobile phone without assistance, she said.

Cameron, the 91st COVID-19 patient in Việt Nam, spent 65 days undergoing treatment for COVID-19 at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in HCM City after he tested positive for the coronavirus on March 18.

On May 22 he was transferred to Chợ Rẫy Hospital for further treatment after testing negative for COVID-19, and at the time was expected to undergo a lung transplant as the disease had reduced his lung capacity to 10 per cent.

He was put on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine and a ventilator, and given many kinds of drugs, Thảo said.

“He at some point seemed close to death but was saved with appropriate medical interventions,” she added.


Assoc Prof Phạm Thị Ngọc Thảo, deputy director of Chợ Rẫy Hospital, speaks at a press meeting on Monday (June 22). — VNS Photo Thu Hằng

He regained consciousness on May 26 and his lung capacity improved gradually, making it possible for him to survive without a lung transplant which had a high risk of death.

On June 3, he was disconnected to the ECMO machine, and on June 12 the ventilator and so far he remains fully conscious.

Trần Thanh Linh, deputy head of Chợ Rẫy Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit, said doctors and nurses took round-the-clock care beside the patient’s bed.

As of Monday, the patient had spent 96 days in treatment, including 31 days at Chợ Rẫy Hospital.

“It is really a miraculous recovery as he was unconscious and totally dependent on the ECMO machine and ventilator,” Linh said.

“It was unbelievable that he woke up from the coma on May 26 four days after doctors stopped using sedatives. There was a glimmer of hope at that time,” he said.

“The first word he told us when he woke up was ‘fantastic’,” Linh recalled.

“We hope that he will have a chance to get back to work as a pilot and fly us to the sky as he promised,” he said.

The Ministry of Health on Monday also held a telemedicine consultation this week with the participation of experts who have been involved in the treatment for more than three months to discuss how best to send him back to Scotland.

Deputy health minister Nguyễn Trường Sơn said the patient will need to undergo at least another two to three weeks of physical therapy to be able to board a plane safely for home.

Sơn said the patient can only leave for home if he could still receive continued care during the flight home and when the Vietnamese side can contact and communicate with an appropriate medical facility in Scotland that can receive the patient and provide him with the best care.

Vietnamese traditional medicine was also involved in the care of the patient, experts revealed at the teleconference. — VNS