|With severely damaged lungs, a lung transplant is the only solution to save the British patient's life (Photo:internet)
The patient, a Vietnam Airlines pilot dubbed as patient 91 in Vietnam, was hospitalized in Ho Chi Minh City on March 18 after being diagnosed with the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the COVID-19 disease.
The patient has since stayed at the intensive care unit of the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital of Tropical Diseases, with his health deteriorating due to lung complications. He has several times tested negative but turned positive again shortly afterwards.
Leading Vietnamese doctors and specialists have gone great pains to treat the patient. They hosted consultations whenever the patient’s health deteriorated. The Ministry of Health even ordered special drugs from overseas to treat him.
Doctors say the patient’s lungs are heavily damaged as they are filled with fluid and inflamed. He is unable to breathe on his own, requiring ventilator or even ECMO support to help circulate oxygen in the body. In addition, he suffers from a ‘cytokine storm’ syndrome, an overreaction of the immune system.
“As only 10% of his lung function remains active, a lung transplant is the only solution to save his life. Without that, it is highly likely that he will die,” said Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long.
However, the patient is showing signs of multiple organ infections, prompting doctors to treat infections before performing the surgery.
According to the health official, three severe coronavirus patients have undergone successful lung transplants in the world. Vietnam has also successfully performed a number of lung transplants and doctors are confident they can handle this case.
Hearing the news about the health status of the British patient, dozens of Vietnamese people have registered to donate their lungs for the transplant. But Long said doctors will prioritise looking for lungs from brain-dead cases.
Currently, the patient is being treated at the HCM City Hospital of Tropical Diseases and he will be transferred to HCM City-based Cho Ray hospital for the surgery as soon as conditions allow.