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Life-saver tech at Shillong hospital

Shillong, Jan. 31: The North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences (NEIGRIHMS) has introduced a life-saving technology for the first time in the region to support patients with severe heart and lung diseases.

The technology, known as ECMO (extra corporeal membrane oxygenation), is used when every other life support measure fails to support patients whose heart and lungs are severely diseased or damaged.

A six-year-old boy suffering from congenital heart disease with severe pulmonary hypertension underwent an open-heart surgery on Wednesday at NEIGRIHMS, and was subsequently put on an artificial heart-lung by-pass machine — ECMO.

He became the first patient in the Northeast in whom such sophisticated technology was used.

A team of doctors, headed by Dr Manuj Kumar Saikia, head of the department (cardiac surgery), NEIGRIHMS, set the ECMO on completion of surgery in the child.

The child is in cardiac surgery intensive care unit (ICU) and maintaining his haemodynamics with ECMO. But he is not out of danger yet.

“Use of ECMO is a complicated and highly specialised process. Patients usually remain on ECMO in the ICU for several days to weeks if necessary. As the day progresses, we can only wait and maintain thevitals so that the damaged heart recovers. We can only hope for the best,” Dr Saikia said.

He also said the device is a form of advanced life support for the heart and lungs. It is used when a patient is critically ill that no other support is adequate to maintain the life of the patient.

“An external pump is connected to the patient to oxygenate the whole body blood, and thereafter pump it through circuit of tubing into the body. Thereby, it acts as an artificial Heart and lungs,” Dr Saikia said.

The technology is used to help patients of all ages with life-threatening diseases that impair heart and/or lung function.

“We are very happy that NEIGRIHMS has acquired such a sophisticated machine, and has got all the expertise to handle and give the best of treatment to all those who require advanced life support,” he added.

The ECMO facility is available only in some of the foremost cardiac centres in India, and now NEIGRIHMS has entered into this league of hospitals.

Through ECMO, advanced life support is given for ARDS (Adults Respiratory Distress Syndrome), H1N1 bird flu cases, intractable pneumonias and others in both neonates and children.