Back From The Dead: Chennai Doctors Revived 13 Patients Whose Heart Stopped For Several Minutes

Doctors at Chennai's Fortis Malar Hospital use a combination of CPR and ECMO to revive the patients

Chennai is known for providing excellent medical care facilities to the patients. The city has a long-standing history of creating ‘green corridors’ for transporting harvested organs to the patients for organ transplants, particularly hearts.

Recently, an 8-year-old Russian boy with an incurable heart condition got a second shot at life thanks to the city’s excellent medical care facilities.

According to reports, Roman, who was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy– a condition which makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood– was brought to Chennai’s Fortis Malar hospital in November last year. Three cardiac arrests, a transplant heart transplant and several procedures later, he left for his country on Monday, March 19 fully cured of his ailment.

However, Roman’s is not the only case where doctors from Chennai’s Fortis Malar hospital have worked miracles in saving patients with severe cardiac issues. In fact, the critical care team from the hospital claims that they have woken up 13 of 19 critically ill patients who suffered cardiac arrest in the hospital. In some cases, the team revived patients after their hearts stopped for nearly 75 minutes!

How do they save so many lives?

While the number of patients they have saved so far might seem astonishing, but the team uses a simple and common technique for reviving patients who have suffered cardiac arrest. The hospital uses Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) along with its routine Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) process to save the patients.

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ECMO is a machine which takes blood from a patient with cardiac arrest and circulates it through a device which removes carbon-di-oxide and adds oxygen to it before putting it back into the patient’s body. To put it simply, it’s a machine which does the work of heart while it can’t function on its own.

According to a report by The Times of India, the ECMO is a part of the hospital’s crash cart that’s dragged when a patient suffers from a cardiac arrest. The hospital has developed special protocols which ensure that no time is wasted when a high-risk patient goes into a cardiac arrest.

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While the traditional CPR has a less than 10 percent survival rate, according to the hospital, when combined with ECMO, the survival rate went as high as 70 percent, The Hindu reported.

However, ECMO can be a costly procedure and patients often rely on their insurances and help from NGOs to cover the costs. The hospital is also working with NGOs such as Aishwariya Trust to support the needy patients.