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British COVID-19 patient’s lungs improve, still relies on life support in Vietnam

Wednesday, May 20, 2020, 16:58 GMT+7
British COVID-19 patient’s lungs improve, still relies on life support in Vietnam
A doctor is pictured during a teleconference on treatment for a British COVID-19 patient organized on May 19, 2020. Photo: Thuy Anh / Tuoi Tre

A 43-year-old British pilot who has been critically sickened by novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has had the condition of his lungs slightly improve, while doctors are still exerting their best efforts to prepare for his lung transplant.

Doctors from major hospitals in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, and the central city of Hue convened their third teleconference in ten days on Tuesday to discuss the most viable treatment for the Briton.

The latest CT scan showed that the patient had regained capacity in 20-30 percent of his lungs, while previous results indicated that only ten percent of the organs were functional.

The improvement is a positive sign, but the patient still fully depends on life support in the form of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), doctors stated, adding that a lung transplant is still very necessary.

“There is hope that his lungs will continue to recover, but chances are low as most of his lungs have solidified, which prevents blood from reaching the organs,” an expert told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

All doctors agreed at the meeting on transferring the Briton from the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases to Cho Ray, the largest general hospital in the southern metropolis, for further treatment and a potential lung transplant.

The exact time of the transfer will be decided on by the two infirmaries.

The Vietnam National Coordinating Center for Human Organ Transplantation confirmed that 59 people have volunteered to donate parts of their lungs for the surgical procedure.

However, the patient needs to have both of his lungs replaced entirely, thus finding a brain-dead registered donor is the top priority, according to the Ministry of Health.

In the meantime, doctors will continue treating the patient so that he will be ready for the transplant when a suitable donor is found.

The Briton, who works as a pilot for Vietnam Airlines, was diagnosed with COVID-19 in mid-March and has been receiving treatment at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Ho Chi Minh City since.

He is currently the most severe COVID-19 case in Vietnam.

The number of COVID-19 patients in Vietnam remained at 324 as of Wednesday morning, with 264 having recovered. No deaths from the disease have been reported.

No new infections in the community have been documented in the Southeast Asian country in the past 34 days.

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