On October 1, the 54-year-old minister was admitted to Bhagwan Mahavir Medica Superspecialty Hospital in Ranchi after he tested positive for Covid-19. Later, he was put on ventilator. His lung condition worsened, and his oxygen saturation remained low. Doctors said he also had comorbidities such as hypertension, diabetes and coronary artery disease.On October 19, he was flown down to Chennai in a special air ambulance with life support (ventilator and ECMO). Since the viral infection had invaded his lungs, the doctor said he might require a lung transplant if it did not heal. “He was on ECMO for 22 days. But despite intensive care, he showed no improvement. Later, when a CT scan confirmed fibrosed and damaged lungs, we knew transplant was inevitable,” said senior transplant surgeon Dr K R Balakrishnan.
On November 10, the minister underwent a bilateral lung transplant. “His oxygenation improved for the first time in months,” said senior cardiac anaesthetist Dr Suresh Rao K G. “ECMO served as a bridge to therapy.
It performed the role of the lungs. When we received a healthy pair of lungs from a brain dead donor, we did the transplant,” he said. Mahto’s transplant took around 11 hours. “It is a big success. We were able to take the patient off ECMO immediately after transplant. He is under constant monitoring. All vital parameters have shown to be stable and he is currently being slowly weaned off ventilator support,” lung transplant surgeon Dr Apar Jindal said. Mahto is undergoing physiotherapy and pulmonary rehabilitation at the hospital.
The hospital had completed six transplants for patients whose lungs were damaged by coronavirus, Dr Jindal added.
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