A British pilot, Vietnam’s most critically endangered novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patient, has been moved out of the intensive care unit (ICU) at a Ho Chi Minh City hospital and is now able to arm-wrestle with his doctor in the institution’s physical rehabilitation ward.
The Briton was transferred from the ICU to the physical rehabilitation unit of Cho Ray Hospital on Sunday.
Doctors are now focused on helping the patient fully restore his physical function.
He is now able to practice walking with medical staff’s help, brush his own teeth, talk, and smile.
He also arm-wrestled with Dr. Tran Thanh Linh, deputy head of the ICU ward, on Sunday.
The patient is expected to be discharged from the hospital and return to his home country soon.
The 43-year-old man, a Vietnam Airlines pilot, was confirmed as the country’s COVID-19 patient No. 91 following his diagnosis in mid-March.
He was admitted to the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases on March 18 with damaged lungs.
His conditions became worse and worse then, with the pilot being on the verge of death many times.
But medical workers refused to let him die, trying every possible way to keep him alive, even with life support outside his body, known as the ECMO technique.
Their efforts paid off as he was then cleared of the coronavirus, though his lungs were badly damaged.
He was transferred to Cho Ray Hospital in the same city on May 22 in a coma.
The sole purpose of the hospital transfer was for doctors to perform a lung transplant on the Briton, which was believed to be the only way to save him at the time, said Dr. Phan Thi Xuan, head of Cho Ray Hospital’s ICU ward.
“It would be much better if he was able to keep his lungs as a transplant could be very risky. Doctors decided to use three types of medicine at the same time to treat his lung infection and gradually lower the doses of sedative and muscle relaxant,” Xuan elaborated.
The treatment proved effective as the patient’s lung capacity improved from only 10 percent in mid-May to 90 percent as of last week.
On June 3, doctors gave the green light to disconnect the patient from ECMO life support, which he had been on for nearly 60 days.
He was taken off his ventilator on June 13, and stopped taking antibiotics used to treat other bacterial infections on June 15.
The patient’s insurance company confirmed on Monday it had paid approximately VND3.5 billion (US$150,600) for his medical treatment at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases from March 18 to May 22.
Vietnam’s COVID-19 tally stood at 349, with 327 having recovered as of Monday morning, according to Ministry of Health statistics.
The country has not reported any community infections in the past 67 days.