Ms. Soubashre, 12 years of age was admitted to Apollo Children's Hospitals (ACH) with severe pneumonia and related issues. While ECMO has been used in other instances in India to cure adults with severe lung infection, this is the first time that a child has been cured of H1N1 using ECMO in India.
ECMO - a modified heart lung machine claimed by doctors as the ultimate life saving technology is slowly being incorporated in treatment of severe lung infections in children. While successful outcomes speak for the advantages of ECMO, many physicians prefer to opt out of ECMO, fearing complications and the high cost factor.
Although there are many centers in India that can treat adults using ECMO, only a handful can treat children using ECMO. Apollo Children's Hospital is one of the very few exclusive organizations in Tamil Nadu that has the infrastructure and skill to treat children using ECMO technology and have successful outcomes too.
Dr Indira Jayakumar, Senior Consultant Emergency & Intensive Care, Apollo Children's Hospitals said, "We are the only facility in Chennai offering ECMO treatment for children exclusively with successful outcomes. Not only do we have the system and technology in place, we are also supported by the best technicians, physicians and support staff that can ensure the best possible treatment. While Soubashre here was suffering from H1N1, people have to understand that ECMO can be used to treat other severe lung infections as well."
"By taking over the work of the heart and lungs, the machine gives a child's heart or lungs a chance to recover. ECMO supports the patient for days to weeks. Soubashre was hooked to the system for 19 days," she added.
Early referrals make all the difference. The key is to initiate it early enough for a good outcome, before other organs begin to fail.
To initiate ECMO, catheters are placed in large blood vessels to provide access to the patient's blood stream and anticoagulant drugs are given to prevent blood clotting. The ECMO machine continuously removes blood from the patient and performs gas exchange, like artificial lungs, before returning the blood to the patient. This technology requires a dedicated team of medical and paramedical experts with round the clock bedside care.
ECMO has proven useful in pneumonia due to infections - H1N1 and other viruses bacterial , scrub typhus , aspiration and also heart failure. It can also be used in any treatable cause of lung failure, buying time for healing, repair and recovery.
Ms. Preetha Reddy, Executive Vice Chairperson, Apollo Hospitals added, "Ever since Apollo's inception, we have invested heavily in technology and resources which we feel will create an impact on patient's lives and help in quicker recovery. Human life is priceless and we will ensure that we do everything in our capacity to treat patients who seek our help. State-of-the-art technology coupled with well-informed doctors, physicians and efficient support system is what has made this possible.'
Maquet, leading ECMO equipment manufacturer has come forward and announced that it will donate an ECMO equipment to ACH adding to the already existing system giving the hospital the ability to treat more than one child at a time.