‘ECMO support can help severely affected COVID-19 patients’


Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) support can help in treating patients whose lungs are completely affected due to COVID-19, said Mohamed Rela, chairman and managing director, Dr. Rela Institute and Medical Centre (RIMC), here on Monday.

He was speaking at a function organised to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between RIMC and KIMS Hospitals, located in Telangana, to set up a Comprehensive Centre of Excellence for Heart and Lung Transplant.

He said if a person’s lungs were affected 100% due to COVID-19, putting the person on ventilator support will not help. “In such cases, ECMO support can be used as a bridge to either help lungs recover or until a transplant is possible,” he said.

Pointing out that treatment options and protocols were evolving continuously for the novel disease, he said ECMO support was proving to be useful for patients who otherwise have no hope for survival.

“ECMO can be used to take over the functioning of both the heart and lungs. In COVID-19 cases, we mostly use it just for lungs. The idea is to put the patients on ECMO support, treat them so that their lungs recover and then take them off ECMO,” he said.

He said RIMC, which is starting ECMO support, will soon start performing heart and lung transplants. “We already have a patient, who was put on ECMO support two days ago,” he said.

A statement by the hospital said Sandeep Attawar, programme director and chair, KIMS Institute of Heart and Lung Transplantation, will provide his expertise to the team from RIMC to provide ECMO support, and to perform heart and lung transplants at the hospital.

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