The day at home of the mother who once ‘split’ the last ECMO machine

Ho Chi Minh CityOn the way home from the hospital, mother Thao Trinh asked for a car to take her to her grandparents’ house so that she could see her sleeping son from afar, for a moment.

This is the first time the 29-year-old mother has met her child, after more than a month of giving birth, then a coma due to Covid-19 turned severe. Trinh’s husband is also positive for nCoV, treated at home. The baby was born, fortunately negative, was discharged to his grandparents’ house when he was 5 days old. At one month, the baby weighs 4 kg. Baby is the sweet fruit of the couple after 4 years of marriage, just when the couple thought they had given up hope due to polycystic ovary disease.

After a brief reunion with her child on September 3, at a distance of 2 m, the mother wiped her tears under the protective visor and mask, returned to the car to quarantine at home for 14 days. Trinh was treated by Hospital 175 from Covid-19, after seemingly insurmountable moments.

“I am extremely happy because I can defeat death to come back to see my baby, but I can’t hold my baby from afar, the feeling is indescribable,” Trinh shared.

Thao Trinh could not hold back her tears as she looked at her son from afar, after more than a month in hospital for Covid-19 treatment. Photo: Chinh Tran

Thao Trinh is the first ECMO intervention to be discharged from the hospital among 7 cases of using this technique at Military Hospital 175, after 1.5 months this place established a last-line unit for Covid-19 treatment. She is also one of two pairs of patients that the hospital first applied the ECMO “split” technique. This extracorporeal membrane oxygenation device is a weapon, the last means of respiratory support for critical cases caused by Covid-19.

More than a month ago, on July 23, Trinh quickly tested positive after a few days of coughing and fever. When they went to the health station to declare, the couple was taken for testing and recorded that they both had Covid-19. Returning to home isolation for two days, Trinh had a high fever, difficulty breathing, was taken to the field hospital No. 4 and then to Hung Vuong Hospital.

On July 29, she went into labor and gave birth to a baby boy weighing 2.8 kg. The new-born baby has become an F1, is placed in an incubator, placed in a crib next to the mother’s bed for a few minutes, before being transferred to isolation at the Pediatric Department to avoid the risk of infection from the mother.

Successfully giving birth, Trinh feels lighter and healthier. However, after that, she progressed badly, in turn, breathing oxygen through the nose, oxygen through the mask, even high-flow oxygen still did not respond. Seeing a pregnant woman lying in the bed next to her die before giving birth, Trinh was afraid, thinking that she would be difficult to overcome, would have to forever no longer see her child. The only consolation for Trinh at this time is that she gave birth safely.

“If I have any fate, please raise the child for me,” Trinh told her husband over the phone, and then fell into a coma. When she woke up, she saw the words Military Hospital 175 on the footrest, and Trinh couldn’t remember when she was transferred to the hospital. Through the doctor’s words, she learned that she had just undergone a life-and-death journey with many thorns, and was fortunate to use the city’s last ECMO machine when it was critical, on the night of August 1.

During the months when his wife was in a coma in the hospital, Mr. Huynh Tam, 30 years old, had to be isolated at home due to being positive. No symptoms, he only wished to be with his wife. From a very deep sleeper, he struggled to fall asleep, just needing the phone to vibrate slightly in the night, he was startled to wake up.

“Every time I see a strange number calling, I want to stop my heart because I’m afraid to hear bad news,” said Mr. Tam. Learning about ECMO, he knows that this is the last method to save his wife, if not, there is no other way. Thinking that he must be ready to accept the truth with the worst case scenario, he just prayed for a miracle, because “never thought this disease was so scary”.

When the doctor called a video to see his wife after 10 days of “bewildered and restless”, Tam breathed a sigh of relief. At that time, Trinh was still on a breathing tube, could not speak, but could wave goodbye to her husband. In the days that followed, many times Trinh was tired, her whole body was full of tangled cords. He encouraged his wife to try hard so that she could still see her husband and children, regardless of the efforts of the doctors and nurses who were dedicated to saving them.

Trinh said goodbye to the doctors when she was discharged from the hospital, on September 3.  Photo: Chinh Tran.

Trinh said goodbye to the doctors when she was discharged from the hospital, on September 3. Photo: Chinh Tran

During the time of fighting for her life at the hospital, Trinh was also “divided” by the doctor into ECMO, sharing the opportunity with another pregnant woman with a critical condition. This initiative was implemented in the context of a very large number of patients requiring ECMO intervention, but the hospital only had 3 ECMO machines.

Senior lieutenant, doctor Nguyen Canh Chung, Military Hospital 175, said that when two patients are linked through a system, it causes more difficulties in treatment, requiring more efforts of the team. “The problem of anticoagulation in Covid-19 disease, especially for pregnant women, is a big challenge,” said Dr. Chung.

Sharing about the reason for deciding to split ECMO, which was unprecedented, Dr. Chung said that in the situation that if nothing was done, the patient would surely die, the doctors and nurses struggled to find a way with their best efforts. force “still slap water”. “We don’t allow tragedy to happen while we can still do something to change the outcome,” said Dr. Chung.

Major General, Associate Professor Nguyen Hong Son, Director of Military Hospital 175, said that this is one of the most severe patients who have been saved at the hospital, thanks to his efforts not to give up even when his hope for life is high. the most vulnerable patient. “The hospital is continuing to equip more machines and equipment, increase the bed capacity, to save more patients, even though it knows that it will be hard, expensive, tiring, and has a higher risk,” he said. Son said.

The reunion of the mother separating ECMO and her son - 2

Trinh and his wife met again after more than a month. Photo: Chinh Tran

On September 4, in a small house in Binh Chanh district, Trinh was able to eat favorite dishes such as sour soup and fish in tomato sauce cooked by her husband. After Covid, she recovered, but Trinh was still a bit weak in her limbs, and had to do more physical therapy on her own.

“In the past, the couple wished to earn a lot of money to have a prosperous life. After this epidemic, I realized that health is the most important, just being healthy with family, husband and children are not happy. which is equal,” Trinh said.

Le Phuong