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Pradeep Singh

As a lot of critically ill Covid-19 patients in Odisha are now requiring ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) care, the State will soon have enough such machines available at hospitals.

While the State government has already decided to install six such life-saving equipment at the SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack, and also at Capital Hospital in Bhubaneswar, questions are being raised over the use and advantages of the facility in treating critical patients.

Manpower for ECMO & Patients who need it:

To run the ECMO machine, four cardiothorasis, four perfusionists, four vascular surgeons, four cardiologists, four pulmonologists and four intensivists are required.

When oxygen support fails in a critically ill patient, a team of these specialists may resort to mechanical ventilation to help maintain oxygenation and monitor the patient for 24 hours. 

"ECMO machine can run 24x7. A dedicated team comprising vascular surgeons, pulmonologists, intensivists, dedicated nurse and perfusionists are required to run it," said Dr Sidharth Das.

Dr Sampad Das said that a perfusionist is needed to monitor the patients 24X7. "It's not possible for a person to work in a shift for more than 12 hours. So, there is a need for at least four or six-member team to monitor the ECMO," Das added.

The State government is planning to set up six ECMO units at the SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack. 

ECMO machine is used when all other medical options are exhausted for a patient when his/her lungs can’t provide enough oxygen to the body. It is also used for patients whose heart can’t pump enough blood to the body.

Does Odisha have enough human resources to handle the ECMO machines?

Director of Medical Education & Training (DMET) , CBK Mohanty said that the ECMO machines will be part of the Cardiothorasis unit at SCB Cuttack and all the six machines will be installed in a single room so that they can be monitored at a time with minimum manpower.

“Our Cardiothorasis department will run the ECMO which means we have the manpower. If we need more, we will definitely go for recruitment,” said Mohanty.

According to reports, the Cardiothorasis unit at SCB Cuttack has only one professor and three cardiac surgeons and one perfusionist who is on contractual basis as no permanent post has been created for the same in the hospital.

Do patients recover by ECMO treatment? 

Health experts claim that four out of 10 patients are getting cured by the ECMO treatment. 

Chief of Critical Care, SUM Ultimate, Dr Banambar Ray said, “It has been noticed, in this COVID times, that out of 10 critically ill patients only two recover, bit if ECMO is used, four persons can recuperate.”

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