Adhik is alive today thanks to the skill and generosity of the Amirita Hospital in India and others who contributed to the cost of using the highly regarded, but costly, ECMO machine. Adhik’s family is of modest means but succeeded in funding the balance of money due for ECMO (Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation).
According to an article published by the India Education Diary Bureau, Adhik was admitted to the Amrita Hospital in Kochi presenting with shock and heart failure attributed to multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). Upon examination, it appeared to doctors that Adhik had been previously exposed to COVID-19.
Upon further examination, the doctors found that Adhik’s heart muscles were inflamed to the extent that they were not able to pump blood. His blood pressure was extremely low. He was immediately put on a ventilator but such efforts for a child whose illness may be fatal requires the experience of a pediatric intensivist. The intensivist is specifically trained to care for children and infants who require an exceptional level of monitoring.
Special lines were inserted into Adhik’s veins to raise his blood pressure. Lines were also inserted into a peripheral artery for an accurate reading of his blood pressure.
Dr. Sajith Kesavan, who is Amrita’s Pediatric Pulmonary Department Head, gave a detailed explanation of the protocol. Medications called immunomodulants, which regulate the immune system, were administered but unfortunately take time to a bring about a response. But Adhik was in shock and not responding even with the aid of a ventilator and medications.
Adhik’s doctors decided that he must be kept stable and allow the medicine to take effect. There was no doubt that ECMO could fulfill that need.
About the ECMO
ECMO is similar to a heart/lung bypass machine that is vital in open-heart operations. The machine functions outside the body, oxygenating the patient’s blood and giving the lungs and heart an opportunity to rest. The patient is connected to the ECMO with blood flowing through the tubing and into an artificial lung stored in the ECMO that supplies oxygen and removes carbon dioxide.
The blood is then warmed to body temperature and returned to the body. ECMO is credited with saving people from dying as a result of COVID-19.
The doctors at Amrita Hospital are putting people on the alert for a wave of MIS-C in South India. They expect it to greatly affect children and teens. The doctors point to Adhik’s illness as an early warning sign. Most pediatric cases of COVID-19 are mild but that is not the case with MIS-C. The disease often causes inflammation in the lungs, heart, kidneys, blood vessels, or brain. Over fifty percent of patients are found to have heart disease.
Checking in on Adhik
According to his doctors, Adhik is responding to treatment and has been taken off the ECMO after seventy-two hours. Two days after that, he was taken off the ventilator and moved out of ICU. The doctors say they are hopeful that Adhik will be back to normal within a few weeks.
Suma Balan, M.D. added a comment about the care required for a life-threatening illness. Dr. Balan emphasized that working with patients in ICU requires skill and cooperation from a multidisciplinary team of specialists. Dr. Balan gives credit to nurses in the critical care units, respiratory therapists, and numerous technicians.
Dr. Balan wants patients and their families to know that although specialized care is costly, it saves lives.