Pneumonia-hit specially abled child saved from brink

Bengaluru: A six-year-old specially-abled boy was bearing signs of viral pneumonia, fever, and respiratory difficulty when he was brought to one of the private hospitals in the city. It was not just the long list of illnesses that was a concern, but the child being specially-abled could not even express how he was feeling.

Initially, he was on oxygen support with antibiotics and nebulisations and later shifted to ventilator support. But even then the support pressure and resistance kept going very high to a life-threatening stage.

The doctors from Columbia Asia Hospital Whitefield decided to put him on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) or a heart line machine which takes out blood from the larger vein, passes through the machine and oxygenates the blood. “This blood aids in giving rest to the lungs once it flows back into the body. Five to seven days is the usual duration for the lungs to get better in this kind of situation,” said doctors.

They said that this device is traditionally used to support adults and children awaiting heart transplant or to support cardiac function post-cardiac surgery.

Miraculously, it worked in this case and the team performed veno-venous ECMO, where the blood was drained from a large cannula inserted in the neck vein. Gradually, his lung function improved and ECMO was de-cannulated after six days of continuous run.

Dr Senthil Kumar, Consultant-Paediatric, Neonatal & Cardiac Intensivist at Columbia Asia Hospital, Whitefield said, “Pollution, low-quality food, weather and seasonal transformation in Bengaluru influence these ailments, particularly in children who are immunodeficient or have some kind of lung or heart issue. These days, a majority of the kids are Vitamin D deficient due to lack of sunlight, staying in AC, hence impacting immunity.”

He said that antibiotics do not suppress immunity, though unnecessary excessive usage of antibiotics might create a resistance in the body. “This is a rare case where a special child had a successful outcome for severe pneumonia after veno-venous ECMO,” Dr Kumar said.

The child was discharged after 14 days after making a complete recovery without any complications.

The child’s father said, “We had almost lost hopes of getting back our child. I thank doctors for treating the child with special care, implementing a unique treatment method.”

The case came out on World Pneumonia Day, which is marked on November 12 every year by the World Health Organisation, seeking awareness about pneumonia to help prevent millions of child deaths.


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