Vietnamese doctors pull out all the stops to save COVID-19 patient 91

(VOVWORLD) - Of Vietnam’s modest coronavirus cases, one is commanding the most attention from media, doctors, and citizens: an unnamed 43-year-old British pilot known as Patient 91. He has been in the most critical condition. He was transferred to Cho Ray Hospital after a two-month stay at Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases, where Vietnamese doctors worked hard to keep him alive. By saving Patient 91, Vietnamese health workers have received praise at home and abroad for their successful fight against COVID-19. 

Vietnamese doctors pull out all the stops to save COVID-19 patient 91 - ảnh 1Patient 91 receives treatment at Cho Ray Hospital. (Photo: VNA)

The British pilot was confirmed positive for COVID-19 on March 20 becoming Vietnam’s Patient 91. Two days earlier, he was admitted to the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases after going to a party at Buddha Bar & Grill, the biggest cluster of infections in Ho Chi Minh City so far. Since his hospital admission, the patient maintained a high fever, along with gradually worsening respiratory failure, so he started receiving extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a form of life support, about two weeks later.

A miraculous journey began to save the life of the British patient, who is 1.81-meter-tall and weighs 100 kilograms, with diabetes and severe lung damage. Four doctors and 12 nurses, who are the most experienced at Cho Ray Hospital and the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases, made up a special team on duty round the clock.

Nurse Pham Thi Tuyen recalled his first days when he was still conscious. The man ate just a little because he was suffering fatigue and loss of appetite like most COVID-19 patients. Tuyen visited and took care of him every day and in return, received his cooperation before he was in a coma.

Tuyen said: “All of us gave our all-out efforts to treat him and looked forward to his improvements. Over 20 health workers, including doctors, nurses, and technicians, just cared for only him. We waited for his good test results every single day. We all wanted him to fully recovery.”

Vietnamese doctors pull out all the stops to save COVID-19 patient 91 - ảnh 2Doctors at Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases hold virtual consulting session with the National Steering Committee on COVID-19 Prevention and Control. (Photo: VNA)  

It was a big challenge to cure this patient. Vietnam's leading physicians in resuscitation, infection, and hematology saved him while studying what to do next as his health conditions worsened and the world lacked a consistent COVID-19 treatment regimen. He was given all the best medicine and facilities.

Doctor Nguyen Thanh Phong of the Ho Chi Minh City Hospital for Tropical Diseases said: “This is the very first patient that we have prescribed that much medicine, all kinds available at first-aid and resuscitation. We even imported intravenous anticoagulants for the first time from Germany to save him. It took us 10 days to complete procedures to import such drug. Those 10 days were really hard for us as we searched here and there for a similar drug available domestically as an alternative. The patient showed positive signs in the first week using this prescription.”  

Then, again, his health started worsening with COVID-19 tests showing positive after negative. Regardless of many sleepless nights, Vietnamese medical staff did the best they could for the man to bring him back from the brink of death. His tests showing negative results several times in a row was the first win for Vietnam in the fight against COVID-19. Doctor Phong breathed a sigh of relief after a 65-day treatment for the British pilot.

“Saving him by all means is our responsibility. The fact that he is still alive and off ECMO is such a reward for us. His test results signify a recovery,” said Phong.

Successful treatment of the British pilot has brought precious lessons to Doctor Phong’s 23-year experience and to the treatment regimes for other COVID-19 patients nationwide. The patient was transferred to Cho Ray Hospital virus-free and in stable health with cognitive progress. It’s still a long way for him to go until a full recovery. Doctors of Cho Ray Hospital have promised to do their best to return him to his normal life.  

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