Covid patient who spent 58 days in ICU 'has good chance of survival'

Coronavirus patient, 35, who spent a record 58 days on a ventilator ‘has a good chance of pulling through’ says critical care consultant as he hails frontline NHS staff who battled to save her life

  • Patient is at Southampton General Hospital and is still supported by a ventilator
  • Dr Sanjay Gupta said she faces long recovery as she ‘has virtually no muscle strength left’; he told Radio 4 today: ‘She is one of our good news stories’
  • Some who spend many weeks in intensive care have to be taught to walk again 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

A coronavirus patient who spent a record 58 days in intensive care on a ventilator has ‘a good chance of pulling through’, her doctor said this morning as he praised the NHS staff who have helped to save her life.

The patient, 35, is at Southampton General Hospital and is still supported by a ventilator although she is not reliant on one – but still has ‘a long way to go’. 

She regained consciousness yesterday and was able to speak for the first time since being admitted to the ward. 

Dr Sanjay Gupta, lead consultant of critical care at the hospital, told Nick Robinson on Radio 4 today: ‘There is varying data from around the world and mortality figures quoted as high as 90% in some places – but she’s definitely one of our good news stories.

‘It’s a testimony to the hard work of the ICU [intensive care unit], nurses and the rehab team that have got her through. 

‘She’s still got a long way to go, but clearly I think she’s got a good chance of pulling through this. 

Southampton General Hospital’s lead consultant for critical care Dr Sanjay Gupta (above) today said that a 35-year-old female patient who spent 58 days in intensive care on a ventilator ‘has a good chance of pulling through’

Dr Gupta added: ‘[The patient] has been with us for nearly two months, and has clearly come a very long way. 

‘One of the key things for her was that we put the tracheostomy tube in, which is part of our weaning process. And this happened about three weeks into her stay.’

The tube allows her to breathe more comfortably after being inserted via an opening at the front of her neck into her windpipe (trachea).

Dr Gupta continued: ‘[The tube] means we don’t have to sedate [patients] so deeply and that allowed us to wake her up. Through the tracheostomy tube, we were able to put in a speaking valve a few days later, which is what allowed her to speak to us. 

‘It’s not uncommon for patients to have a prolonged period on intensive care, and I think this is new because we haven’t come across this in Covid patients before.’ 

Dr Gupta also said the patient will require a prolonged period of rehab, The Sunday Times reported.  

He added: ‘She has virtually no muscle strength left – barely enough to breathe. If you’re on a ventilator or in intensive care, your skeletal muscles decondition.’ 

Generally, the sickest patients face the longest recovery and some of those who spend weeks in intensive care have to be taught to walk and breathe again. It comes after several studies calculated the mortality rate of patients on ventilators could be as high as 90%. (File photo) 

He said that the longer a patient spends on a ventilator, other problems – such as a weakened diaphragm – start to emerge. 

Generally, the sickest patients face the longest recovery and some of those who spend weeks in intensive care have to be taught to walk and breathe again.  

It comes after several studies calculated the mortality rate of patients on ventilators could be as high as 90%. 

Some researchers said some studies only included those who had died or left hospital and excluded those who were still in intensive care. 

Professor Colin Cooke of Michigan University’s pulmonary and critical care division said: ‘It is always disheartening to know that some people are out there saying if you end up on a ventilator it’s a death sentence.’ 

The female patient, 35, is at Southampton General Hospital (file photo) and is still supported by a ventilator although is not reliant on one

Ventilators pump oxygen under pressure directly into the lungs via a tube inserted down the throat

A study published in the Journal of American Medical Association examined the health records of 5,700 patients hospitalised with the virus at Northwell Health, New York. 

The final outcomes were known for 2,634 patients. It found that roughly 20% of coronavirus patients died but for patients placed on ventilators, 88% died.  

Another study on a sample of 6,720 critically-ill coronavirus patients by the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre (ICNARC) found that just under two thirds of patients requiring ventilation died.   

Professor Cooke added that that’s not what we’re experiencing and he doesn’t think the data is showing that.  

In the UK there are 10,484 people in hospital with coronavirus and 20 per cent of critical care beds are occupied by Covid-19 patients.   

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