'Sars-like virus' man on artificial lung

 

A man who contracted a potentially fatal Sars-like virus has been connected to an artificial lung to keep him alive.

The 49-year-old, from Qatar, is being treated in an intensive care unit at St Thomas' hospital in London after he became infected with a new type of coronavirus.

A spokeswoman for the hospital said that the man, who is in isolation, is receiving extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (Ecmo) treatment, which delivers oxygen to the blood outside the body when the lungs are not able to. It also continuously pumps blood into and around the body.

The man, who was suffering from acute respiratory syndrome and renal failure, was admitted to an intensive care unit in Doha, Qatar, on September 7. He was transferred to the UK by air ambulance on September 11.

Before he became ill he had travelled to Saudi Arabia, a World Health Organisation spokesman said.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) said the man has contracted a "new virus" which has only been identified in one other case. That patient, a 60-year-old from Saudi Arabia, died as a result of the virus.

A HPA spokeswoman said preliminary inquires had found no contact between the two patients.

The organisation is also investigating a "small number" of cases which could be linked to the virus.

One patient, who travelled to the Middle East in the last three months, was treated in the UK but has since died, the HPA said.

A spokeswoman for Guy's and St Thomas' said: "The patient has been identified as having a new type of coronavirus and we are working closely with the HPA and following their guidance.

"The patient, who has been isolated, is receiving extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (Ecmo) treatment, which delivers oxygen to the blood outside the body when the lungs are not able to. We are one of five designated specialist centres in the UK to offer this treatment.

"We are following strict infection prevention and control procedures to protect patients and staff.

"There is no evidence that the virus has been transmitted to any other patient or member of staff. However, staff involved in caring for this patient are being followed up by occupational health as a precaution."

Coronaviruses cause most common colds but can also cause Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome). In 2003, hundreds of people died after a Sars outbreak in Asia.

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