Saturday 31 October 2020

SP Balasubrahmanyam, suffering from COVID, ‘extremely critical’

The popular playback singer, who turned 74 this year on 4 June, is on ECMO and other life support systems, is undergoing physiotherapy as well

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The medical condition of playback singer SP Balasubrahmanyam, who has been undergoing treatment for COVID-19 in MGM Healthcare in Chennai, is extremely critical according to the Chennai hospital.

The condition of Balasubrahmanyam worsened, necessitating maximal life support, the hospital bulletin said. Signed by hospital assistant director Dr Anuradha Baskaran, the bulletin has made it public that the singer is on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO: using a pump to circulate blood through an artificial lung back into the bloodstream of generally an infant) and other life support measures.

Balasubrahmanyam was admitted to hospital on 5 August with “mild” symptoms of COVID-19. That day, he posted a video on his social media page saying he was “perfectly alright”. He had added that he had nevertheless decided in favour of hospital treatment to avoid disturbance and take rest.

On 13 August 13, the singer’s oxygen saturation dropped. The hospital moved him to the intensive care unit and connected him to life support. Dr V Sabanayagam, consultant and clinical lead, MGM Healthcare, who is treating him, said the team treated Balasubrahmanyam with plasma therapy. The doctors recommended remdesivir, steroids and other medications to prevent blood clots.

Balasubrahmanyam, who turned 74 this year on 4 June, is undergoing physiotherapy too. The doctors put him often in a prone position to improve oxygenation.

On 18 August, doctors moved the ailing singer to a high sterile unit on the sixth floor of the hospital. Balasubrahmanyam got life support systems like a ventilator and ECMO. Doctors said they were taking a multi-disciplinary approach to his treatment. They spoke to experts from the UK and the US for inputs on how to manage critically ill patients.

The condition of Balasubrahmanyam remains critical although he is stable. The singer’s son SP Charan had earlier this month released a video messages assuring people that he was hopeful that his father would recover from the viral infection.

On 8 September, the hospital said the health condition the singer would warrant an extended stay in the ICU.

On 19 September, the singer’s son said his father’s condition was improving although he was still on life support. “He started oral intake of food since yesterday. That should help him grow stronger and take care of other vitals also,” he said.

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