Nightmare at the Quebec Heart and Pneumology Institute

With an alarming death rate, the Institut de cardiologie et de pneumologie de Québec (IUCPQ) is fighting unevenly in the face of the virus to limit the dramatic consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak.

• Read also: LIVE | The latest developments on the coronavirus

About twenty patients hospitalized at the IUCPQ are affected. The coronavirus is proving to be ruthless for patients suffering from heart or lung problems. So far, the death rate for affected patients is around 16% at the institute, according to our information.

Courtesy photo

Mario Senechal

Despite massive screening carried out last week and another scheduled for this week, “the situation remains worrying”, launches an interview with the Dr Mario Sénéchal, director of the hospital centre’s heart failure and transplant program.

The latter also has a message for those who compare the seasonal flu to COVID-19. He sees the difference every day at the institute. “It’s complete rubbish!” plague the cardiologist.

“People who claim the fact that it’s like the flu […] just haven’t seen hospitalized patients and patients dying ”.

The death rate is incomparable with the flu, he explains. The main Columbia University study on this subject reveals that 25% of hospital patients who contract COVID-19 after having a heart transplant die from it.

This dramatic situation recently occurred at the IUCPQ, we learned. A patient who was finally able to receive a heart died after being infected with COVID-19.

The Dr Sénéchal could not comment on this specific case.

But for him, the ravages of COVID-19 are not “trivial”. He specifies that this mortality rate for transplant patients is also high regardless of age.

If COVID-19 hits patients with this type of medical condition so hard, it is because the virus can cause lung damage, which can lower their oxygen levels. The kidneys, the liver and the heart can thus be weakened.

The situation is too dangerous to continue heart transplants, ruled the IUCPQ, which has interrupted them since October 2.

From this week, an isolated room at ICUPQ will be available for extremely urgent cases. A transplant has been postponed so far and since September nearly 30% of elective surgeries have been postponed.

For the Dr Sénéchal, no question of resuming non-urgent short-term transplants.

“It’s too risky,” he insists. It’s not just one or two weeks, or one or two massive screenings that will reassure me. I need a lot of time […] And that is not a question of days and it is not a question of weeks either. It’s a question that’s longer than that. ”

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