• The boy's test results showed adult-like acute COVID-19 pneumonia rarely seen in children
  • His blood oxygen saturation dropped to 42% at one point
  • The boy was also treated with medicines, including steroids and antiviral remdesivir

A 4-year-old boy, who spent 45 days in an invasive high-frequency ventilator battling severe COVID-linked pneumonia, has recovered. His recovery after such a prolonged period of medical ventilation is likely the first such case in the world, say doctors.

The child, identified as Prem, was admitted to Jehangir Hospital in the Indian city of Pune on Nov. 11. At that time, the boy was gasping for breath and was severely oxygen-deprived, reported The Times Of India.

The boy was diagnosed with COVID-linked pneumonia with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). "We initially admitted him to a small private hospital for fever not responding to medication and chest congestion. His bed was next to an adolescent recovering from post-COVID symptoms. After five days, Prem started gasping," his father told the news outlet.

At the time, his blood oxygen saturation dropped to 42%, an extremely low level. A patient with oxygen levels below 93% requires oxygen therapy, so the child required aggressive treatment with invasive ventilator support.

"Prem landed here with extreme COVID pneumonia. His high-resolution chest tomography score was 21, showing adult-like acute COVID-pneumonia severity rarely seen in children," Dr. Sagar Lad, a pediatric intensivist, told the daily.

Though he was immediately put on invasive ventilator support, his condition did not improve, following which the doctors had to use a special type of ventilator, called a high-frequency invasive ventilator.

"He required high ventilation settings to increase oxygen levels in the blood. He also had air accumulation surrounding the lungs and required a tube to suck the air out," Dr. Lad said, calling his condition "challenging."

The boy was also treated with medicines, including steroids and antiviral remdesivir. After prolonged treatment, his condition started to improve, following which doctors started weaning him off mechanical ventilation after 45 days of life support on the ventilator.

Prem was discharged from the hospital on Jan. 18 after making a complete lung recovery.

While reports talk about adults recovering from COVID-19 complications after spending over 100 days on the ventilator, so far there is nothing about children doing so.

In India, where a widespread vaccination drive is on, jabs for children below 15 have not yet begun. According to the Health Ministry, the decision on COVID-19 vaccination for children less than 15 years of age will be taken only after scientific evidence.

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