Heart machine helps critical H1N1 patient recover

Medical science has once again made that life and death difference which it is known to make, this time to an H1N1 patient in Bangalore who had acute respiratory failure.

In a unique medical intervention, a machine known as extra corporeal membrane oxygenator (ECMO), used mostly in cardiac surgery was used on an H1N1 patient who after 15 days on artificial heart and lung system support recovered fully and was pronounced out of danger.

V Srinivas, a retired KSRTC employee contracted the dreaded H1N1 infection with breathing difficulty and fever symptoms. He was admitted to a city hospital in the general ward but had to be later shifted to the ICU on ventilator support as he developed acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

The hospital then contacted Narayan Hrudayalaya, which had an organised ECMO facility. However, since doctors feared Srinivas' condition might worsen at being shifted to the hospital, the ECMO machine was transported to the hospital and Srinivas had medical support administered to him at the hospital where he was admitted.
On stabilising, he was later shifted to Narayana Hrudayalaya.

ECMO is a sophisticated machine, that functions as the patient's heart and lungs outside the body. It receives impure blood from the patient and returns oxygenated blood to the patient's body.

Srinivas was on the ECMO for about two weeks. Though in the first week, he showed little improvement, and had some difficulty coping with infections, in the second week, his condition started improving. He was then disconnected from ECMO support.