Srinagar Apr 23 (GNS): While most of the novel coronavirus patients who get placed on conventional ventilators die, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Thursday said Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) machine islife-saving for critically ill COVID-19 patients.

“ECMO is saving people from the brink of death,” said DAK PresidentDr Nisar ul Hassan.

“ECMO is an advanced type of mechanical life support that removes blood from the body, oxygenates and removes carbon dioxide from that blood, and then returns the blood to the body, allowing the patient’s damaged lungs to recover,” he said.

Dr Nisar said the machine improves the chances of survival in dying patients compared to using conventional ventilation management.

Citing a study, he said 63 percent patients with severe respiratory failure survived without disability on ECMO compared to 47 percent of those who were assigned conventional management.

Dr Nisar said most COVID-19 patients who end up on conventional ventilators go on to die, according to several studies from US, China and Europe.

“A study from UK found that of 98 ventilated patients, just 33 were discharged alive,” he said adding that “the numbers from another study of Wuhan, China are even grimmer. Only 3 of 22 ventilated patients survived.”

Dr Nisar said conventional ventilator works by intermittent positive-pressure ventilation where oxygen-enriched air is blown into the lungs at high pressure. This in turn causes pressure injury to the lung tissue damaging further the already ravaged lungs of COVID-19 patients, delaying or preventing their recovery.

“While FDA has approved the use of ECMO as treatment for extreme cases of COVD-19, WHO considers it as a rescue therapy for those cases who fail to maintain oxygenation on conventional ventilation,” he said.

Dr Nisar said we have one ECMO machine installed at SKIMS hospital, but it has not been put to use yet.

“Based on the data from China which has passed the peak of its suffering from the pandemic, about 5 percent of confirmed cases of COVID-19 were critically ill and vast majority of them required mechanical ventilation for respiratory failure,” he said. (GNS)

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