Saving a snake bite victim from the jaws of death using ECMO

In Another medical breakthrough, Fortis Malar Hospital managed to rescue a snake bite victim from the jaws of death, after the venom put his lungs to waste — they put him on an ECMO (Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation) machine so that his lungs were spared the job of pumping oxygen and healed quickly.

When 23-year-old Ramesh, a farmer from Nellore, was working in the fields last month, he was bitten by a Russell’s Viper. The deadly snake bit him four times infusing a large quantity of haemotoxin venom into his body — which destroyed his red blood cells in crucial organs of the body. He was initially taken to a ‘mantrik’ for treatment, where there was time wasted, but after he lost consciousness and his limbs swelled, Ramesh’s father decided to take him to a hospital in Nellore where he was given first-aid and anti-venom.

Things got worse when he slipped into a coma and his scans showed that he had a brain hemorrhage. Almost a week after he was bitten by a snake, he was shifted to Malar in Chennai. He was unconscious when he came in and his lung function was on the decline due to a blood clot in the lung. Oxygen levels in his blood dropped to 30% and plummeted, His lungs needed to work for him to stay alive, but the clot would eventually bleed and kill him if it kept working.

As the ECMO had been used by the cardiac team at Fortis Malar extensively in the past, Dr K G Suresh Rao (Head – Critical Care & Cardiac Anesthesia) & his team quickly consulted and decided to try using the artificial heart machine to took over the function of the lungs. Though he was completely unconscious for two days, his lungs and heart were completely devoid of having to keep him alive, so they healed within 72 hours. Though he was extremely traumatised when he woke up, Ramesh realises that he is extremely lucky to have survived the snake bites and the resulting trauma.

Coverage for the same appeared in New Indian Express