In what is perhaps India’s longest ECMO battle against Covid-19, Rela Hospital, a Multi-Speciality Quaternary Care Hospital in Chennai saved the life of Mudijja, a 56-year-old diagnosed with Covid infection and the resultant lung complications after a record of 109 days of treatment.
When Mudijja stepped out of the hospital as a healthy man on August 19th, 2021, he became a living miracle, as none in the country has ever recovered without a lung transplant after spending more than 4 weeks with the support of ECMO, the treatment and care at the hospital were such that Mudijja did not require a lung transplant, even after 9 weeks of ECMO support.
Mudijja tested positive for COVID-19 in April-end and developed breathing difficulties early on before being referred to Rela Hospital. The CT scan taken a day prior to his admission at Rela Hospital recorded a CT score of 11/25, indicating moderate COVID-19 pneumonia.
When he was transferred to Rela Hospital, his oxygen saturation level was at 92 percent in room air. His condition deteriorated and he required 10 litres of oxygen per minute. The Heart and Lung Team led by Dr C Arumugam, Senior Consultant, Heart and Lung Transplant Surgeon decided to move into ECMO. The method chosen is known as V-V ECMO.
In the initial 4-5 weeks, the progress was minimal however the hospital continued the care.
Commenting about the clinical excellence, Prof Mohamed Rela, Chairman and Managing Director, Rela Hospital said, What an amazing outcome this is, for the patient and his family.
ECMO, traditionally, has been used as an intermittent arrangement until Lung Transplantation however now this team has truly made it a life-saving procedure.
Being able to offer it to our community, allows critical patients a better opportunity to survive and get back to their normal life. After almost 50 days into ECMO, there was a miracle in store. MrMudijja slowly started improving, with enhancing lung performance.
The clinical team decided to proceed with the treatment plan but without a transplant, said Dr C Arumugam, Senior Consultant, Cardiovascular & Thoracic Surgery, Rela Hospital.
“On the 54th day of his ECMO support, the CT scan showed few areas of resolution and we gradually reduce the ECMO support, and after 62 days into ECMO, the patient came off ECMO completely.”
“We witnessed a miracle in front of our eyes. We kept him on minimal ventilator support with tracheotomy for another two weeks and weaned him off the ventilator on July 29, 2021. Soon, the patient was made to sit and walk and take regular normal feeds. MrMudijja is the only patient in the country to recover without lung transplant after being hooked up to an artificial lung (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation – ECMO) for over 60 days,” added Dr Arumugam.
With the 3rd wave around the corner and the public still unvaccinated, Prof Rela sees the ECMO machine as a critical tool the healthcare fraternity shall depend upon, for the treatment of other life-threatening illnesses as the uncertainty of the pandemic continues.