Lung transplant not yet a must for British Covid-19 patient

By Le Phuong   May 11, 2020 | 05:55 am PT
Lung transplant not yet a must for British Covid-19 patient
A medical staff works in a laboratory that examines samples for Covid-19 testing at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in HCMC, April 10, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.
Experts said Monday the lungs of a 43-year-old British Covid-19 patient have not been damaged to the extent of needing a transplant.

Dr Nguyen Van Vinh Chau, director of the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Ho Chi Minh City, said that while it cannot be said at the moment that the patient’s lung functions can be recovered, it has not reached the point of requiring a transplant.

The hospital continues to treat the patient and conduct tests and necessary procedures to prepare for lung transplant if and when needed, he said.

The patient, a Vietnam Airlines pilot, tested negative for the coronavirus Monday. He has been on a ventilator for 16 days and put on a life support machine called Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), which involves pumping blood out of the body to a heart-lung machine that removes carbon dioxide and sends oxygen-filled blood back, for 36 days.

The Health Ministry and experts from five major hospitals in the country said at a meeting Sunday that the patient cannot be given a lung transplant yet due to severe infection.

The transplant also depends on the source of the organ and compatibility between the donor and the recipient.

"If eligible for the lung transplant, the patient will be transferred to the Cho Ray Hospital (in HCMC)," doctor Chau said.

Last week, the health ministry had said a lung transplant was being considered for the British patient, Vietnam’s most severe Covid-19 case.

He was confirmed positive on March 18. The patient's condition worsened despite his young age. Doctors said he suffers from a blood clotting disorder and cytokine storm syndrome, an intense immune response where the immune system releases a lot of cytokines through the bloodstream, which works against the body.

His body has been resistant to all types of domestic coagulant drugs and the health ministry has had to purchase drugs overseas for his treatment.

His lungs are condensed and test results for Covid-19 have come out both negative and positive multiple times.

The Vietnam Airlines pilot was the first case of a cluster – the Buddha Bar and Grill in District 2 – which turned out to be HCMC’s biggest Covid-19 hotspot with 19 cases.

Vietnam recorded no new coronavirus cases Monday evening. The country has gone through 25 days without any infection caused by community transmission.

Its Covid-19 tally has stood at 288 since last Thursday. Of these, 39 are active cases as 249 patients have recovered. Among those still under treatment, 14 have tested negative at least twice and six once. No dealths have been recorded.

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