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COVID-19 patient has 'miracle' recovery

By ZHENG CAIXIONG in Guangzhou | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2020-08-29 07:12
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Customs workers check an inbound passenger's health information card in Shenzhen Bay Port in Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong province, on April 3, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

High quality technologies, strong teamwork and humanistic care have contributed to the successful treatment of a critically ill COVID-19 patient at the First Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou Medical University in Guangdong province.

The novel coronavirus patient survived after a world record 111 days on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine that transports blood to a type of heart-lung device that removes carbon dioxide and sends oxygen-filled blood back to the body.

"Humanistic care is the soul of healing patients," said Liu Xiaoqing, director of the hospital's intensive care medicine unit.

Liu spoke at a ceremony organized by her hospital to celebrate the recovery of a 62-year-old COVID-19 patient surnamed Liu who was kept alive for 111 days by an ECMO machine.

The patient, who also had relied on a respirator to breathe for over 150 days, was discharged from the hospital on Thursday. He was the first COVID-19 patient to recover after having been on an ECMO machine for so long.

The patient, who was transferred to Liu Xiaoqing's hospital from another local hospital on Feb 4, was sent to the intensive care unit and connected to the ECMO on Feb 9 when his condition worsened. In addition to providing medication, the medical staff took turns caring for and looking after him in the ward.

Liu Xuesong, the doctor in charge of the patient, said the man was overweight and had cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, sleep apnea and other health problems, making treatment more difficult. The patient, at 169 centimeters tall, weighed over 95 kilograms.

Doctors chatted with the seriously ill man, shook hands with him and touched his face on their rounds to encourage him, calming him and helping dispel fear and anxiety, Liu Xuesong said.

Liu Dongdong, another doctor. said the staff took turns helping the patient with rehabilitation exercises twice a day to prevent his joints from stiffening and his muscles from atrophying.

Chen Lihua, a head nurse, said the nursing staff kept him clean and comfortable.

"Doctors also helped clean the patient every day, so the man never had bedsores even after being in bed for months," Chen said.

Liu Xiaoqing said while preserving life is the most basic requirement, medical staff also should have the patient's future in mind. "We should not only enable them to live, but also live with quality," she said.

Zhong Nanshan, a top respiratory disease expert and an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said many of his foreign counterparts said it was a medical "miracle" for a seriously ill COVID-19 patient to recover after being on an ECMO for 111 days.

Zhong said they never gave up on the man, and Zhong himself asked about the patient's condition every day.

"As long as there is a glimmer of hope, we do it at all costs," Zhong said.

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