Doctor who risked his life offering oxygen support to save elderly patient, on path to COVID-19 recovery

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Chennai: Dr Sanket Mehta, a doctor ailing from COVID-19, who risked his life by offering his oxygen support to an elderly patient at a crucial time, is now out of danger. While performing his duties at his hometown Surat, he is said to have contracted coronavirus, following which he was hospitalized. 

However, while admitted in the ICU, Dr Mehta, an anaesthetist is said to have offered the oxygen support (that he was dependent on) to an elderly person who was also in need of ventilator support.

This act of selflessness to save the 70-year old had deteriorated his own health condition and led to respiratory failure, after which he was airlifted to a private hospital in Chennai for further treatment. 

The MGM hospital in Chennai had admitted Sanket at a time when he had fluctuating oxygen saturation and was ECMO dependent for oxygenation. His lungs were found to be stiff and not contributing to the respiration process. Owing to severe muscular weakness, he wasn’t able to even move his limbs. After spending weeks under critical care, it was feared that he would require a lung transplant. But the MGM hospital has said that with continued ECMO support and clinical management, his condition has improved. 

The Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) treatment uses a machine that can perform the function of the heart and lungs when the patient’s heart is unable to pump enough blood and the lungs cant release carbon dioxide.

“We had the option of doing a bilateral lung transplant in case the lungs do not recover. Fortunately, we could wean off of ECMO with the recovery of the lungs. Today, we are grateful to all based on how this has turned out,”  Dr Suresh Rao, Co-Director, Institute of Heart & Lung Transplant and Mechanical Circulatory Support said. 

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Earlier on Tuesday, Dr Sanket was taken off ECMO support and his lungs with 40% oxygen support are able to sustain oxygenation at 100% oxygen saturation. 

According to the hospital, he has been undergoing intensive physiotherapy and his muscle power has gradually increased, while his blood parameters are also within a normal range.

Dr Apar Jindal, Clinical Director & Consultant, Lung Transplant, Interventional Pulmonology & Chest Medicine said, “The importance of physiotherapy and muscle movement in ICU especially in ventilated and ECMO patient is very crucial. If offered early and managed well, ECMO can help improve patient’s lungs and avoid escalation to transplant in COVID Acute Respiratory distress syndrome.”

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