A British pilot – Vietnam’s most critical COVID-19 patient – has been taken off ECMO life support after nearly two months, as doctors had noted gradual improvements in his recovery.
Doctors at Cho Ray Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday gave the green light to disconnect the Briton from ECMO after having used the machine to provide cardiac and respiratory support for him for the past 57 days.
The Briton is now awake, responds well to doctors, and has a stable pulse and blood pressure.
He can move his head and hold a cup of water with assistance from hospital staff.
More than half of his left lung has recovered, while his right lung also appears to be improving slowly.
The patient’s renal function is also recovering.
He is expected to remain on a ventilator for a few more weeks, according to the National Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control.
ECMO withdrawal is an important milestone in the Briton’s treatment as it was previously vital in keeping him alive.
On May 13, a CT scan revealed that only 10 percent of his lungs were functional, with doctors and experts believing that a lung transplant was the only way to save him.
About 70 people in the country had volunteered to donate parts of their lungs for the procedure, but finding a brain-dead registered donor was a priority.
Doctors also needed to fully treat his lung infection before performing the surgery on the patient.
However, his lung capacity increased to about 30 percent a week later and to 40 percent last week.
If his lung and renal functions continue to improve, he will have a chance to survive without a lung or kidney transplant, according to doctors.
Medical practitioners from major hospitals across Vietnam are expected to convene their fourth teleconference on Thursday to discuss the best treatment course for the Briton.
Vietnam’s COVID-19 tally remained at 328 as of Thursday morning, with 302 having recovered.
Among the 26 active patients, 13 have tested negative for the novel coronavirus at least once since receiving treatment.
No community spread has been detected in the country for nearly 50 days.