Transplant treatment for flu patients in Wythenshawe

A Manchester hospital is treating critically ill flu patients with technology developed for those who have had heart and lung transplants.

Wythenshawe Hospital is using the extra corporeal membrane oxygenation (Ecmo) treatment on some who have fallen seriously ill with the virus.

The machine takes over the work of a patient's lungs by oxygenating blood outside the body.

The technique is only being used on flu patients in a handful of UK hospitals.

Professor Nizar Yonan is the director of the transplant programme and a consultant cardiothoracic surgeon at the Transplant Centre in Wythenshawe.

Treatment 'successful'

He said: "In transplantation, the organs usually work within 48 hours, so your Ecmo support is two, three or four days.

"Here, you are waiting for the lungs to recover which could take two or three or four weeks."

He said the treatment has been very successful.

"We have had now four patients who have been 'Ecmoed' and taken off successfully and they have now recovered, two of them recovered within one week," he added.

Figures released by NHS North West show 108 flu patients were in critical care beds in the region last week.

Thirty-nine people in the UK have died with flu-like illnesses this winter, according to the latest figures released by the Health Protection Agency (HPA).

All but three of them were infected with the H1N1 swine flu virus, while the remainder had influenza B, the HPA said.

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