Even some patients originally considered candidates for a lung transplant have managed to recover and go home without needing it, said Dr. Tiago Noguchi Machuca, a lung transplant surgeon at the University of Florida.
He had treated patients with ventilators and ECMO machines – devices that infuse oxygen into the bloodstream and remove carbon dioxide – who managed to get them off life support and breathe on their own. His team keeps these patients on ECMO machines but tries to remove them from ventilators to restore their breathing capacity, he said.
A patient was about to go home soon. “We brought him here really thinking he would need a transplant,”
Doctors still don’t know how long it will take patients to regain their pre-Covid strength and stamina. In case of acute respiratory distress syndrome or ARDS, which was caused by other viruses and has similarities to Covid-19, full recovery can take more than a year, but there are no such statistics for Covid yet.
However, the sooner patients begin their rehabilitation, the faster they begin to recover, which may be another reason for doctors to take them off ventilators earlier, Ms. Al Chikhanie said. This may be possible, especially as scientists know how to better manage the acute infection phase.
Mount Sinai doctors found that Covid does not break down the blood vessels in the lung, but rather dilates them, which makes blood flow too fast for oxygen to be absorbed, causing hypoxemia or low blood oxygen levels or hypoxemia. Dr. Hooman Poor, pulmonologist and co-author of the Mt. The Sinai paper said more research is needed to identify effective ways to reduce Covid-induced hypoxemia in patients.
Some people who have spent a lot of time on life support may recover, although they will need a lot of help and perseverance. “Stay active, move and walk around the house, go up and down the stairs,” Ms. Al Chikhanie said.