Senior doctors from across Vietnam convened a teleconference on Sunday to discuss the most viable treatment for a 43-year-old British man critically sickened by novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Ho Chi Minh City.
The meeting was attended by leading doctors and experts specializing in emergency care, active treatment, heart-lung transplantation, and thoracic surgery from the Viet Duc University Hospital in Hanoi, Hue Central Hospital in the namesake north-central city, and the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases.
The doctors discussed transferring the patient to Cho Ray Hospital, the largest general hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, to continue his treatment and evaluate the possibility of a lung transplant.
The Briton, who works as a pilot for Vietnam Airlines, was infected with COVID-19 in mid-March and has been receiving treatment at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in the southern metropolis.
His treatment has been a roller-coaster ride, with tests alternating between positive and negative for the virus. The latest test on Saturday last week was positive.
The man has been on life support in the form of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) for over 30 days and has been given intubation to assist in his breathing.
Doctors will focus on assessing multiple factors of the lung transplant as well as how to find a compatible lung, Luong Ngoc Khue, head of the Medical Examination and Treatment Management Department under the Ministry of Health, adding that the procedure will be carried out once there is an indication the transplant is necessary.
Finding a donor may be difficult as the patient has a tall and big body. The difference in height, weight, and the size of lungs between the donor and the recipient must not exceed 20 percent, Khue elaborated.
The Vietnam National Coordinating Center for Human Organ Transplantation will be in charge of this task, coordinating with major hospitals in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
According to Dr. Nguyen Thanh Phong, a head physician at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Ho Chi Minh City, all medical expenses of the British patient have been paid for by the infirmary.
Doctors have been using the best types of medicine, many of which were ordered from abroad, while ECMO is also very expensive, Phong added.
Sources of Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper revealed that the treatment of the British pilot has cost approximately VND5 billion (US$214,000) so far.
Vietnamese authorities are expected to discuss with the British Embassy in Hanoi regarding the medical cost of the patient, said Khue.
Vietnam’s COVID-19 tally stands at 288, with 241 having recovered as of Monday morning. No deaths from the disease have been recorded in the country.