School Education and Literacy Minister Jagarnath Mahto, who was flown to Chennai for better medical attention after developing complications in his respiratory system due to COVID-19, has been put on a life support system called Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO), at the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial (MGM) Healthcare in Chennai, doctors treating him there said on Thursday.
The Co-director of Institute of Heart and Lung Transplantation & Mechanical Circulatory Assist Device, Dr. Suresh Rao explained that through ECMO blood is pumped outside of a patient’s body to a heart-lung machine that removes carbon dioxide and sends oxygen-filled blood back to tissues in the body.
“In ECMO, the gas exchange happens outside the body through the machine instead of the lungs. Once the blood is oxygenated and carbon dioxide is removed, it is given back to the heart, from where it circulates to other parts of the body,” said Dr. Rao. However, the doctor admitted that ECMO was a bridge therapy, and patients cannot be kept on ECMO for long.
Some Covid patients recovered after being on ECMO for a month, and some did not, said Rao. A patient, who did not respond to ECMO, underwent a lung transplant at the hospital and is doing well now, he recalled. “His (Mahto’s) condition is slightly better than what it was in Ranchi,” added Rao.
Mahto, a Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) legislator from Dumri, tested positive for Covid-19 on September 28. He was shifted from State-run Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) to Bhagwan Mahavir Medica Superspecialty Hospital in Ranchi on October 1, where he was put on non-invasive ventilation. However, the minister’s condition did not improve during 20 days of treatment in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the hospital and he had to be shifted to Chennai.
The Clinical Director of Lung Transplant, Interventional Pulmonology and Chest Medicine at MGM, Dr. Apar Jindal said that Mahto was stable and in his senses on Thursday. The 54-year-old minister was also responding to the treatment, Jindal added.
“He is quite stable now. We are not trying to force his lungs to start functioning at an optimum level of efficiency,” said Dr. Jindal. “His blood pressure is fine. His heart rate is also normal. And we are not dealing with any infection as of now,” he added.
Dr. Jindal admitted that Mahto’s lungs were badly affected due to the viral infection, but there was a possibility that his lungs may recover with time if he gets proper rest and the required medical attention. Jindal said that the doctors at MGM will give at least a couple of weeks to Mahto to respond to the treatment and allow his lungs to heal on their own.
“We cannot abruptly decide to go for a lung transplant. There are possibilities of him recovering without surgical intervention,” Jindal said.
At least five ministers in the Jharkhand Cabinet have tested positive for Covid-19 so far. State Minority Welfare Minister Haji Hussain Ansari died of a cardiac arrest a day after testing Covid-negative at Medanta Hospital in Ranchi.
Health Minister Banna Gupta, Drinking Water and Sanitation Minister Mithilesh Thakur and Agriculture Minister Badal also tested positive for Covid-19 earlier. All three of them recovered without suffering from any medical complication.