A state-of-the-art treatment that acts as an artificial lung has provided lifesaving support to 20 patients with respiratory failure, according to the head of the program’s multidisciplinary team, Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Dr. Ibrahim Fawzy Hassan.
Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO), works by oxygenating blood using an artificial lung outside of the body. It stabilizes a patient's severely diseased or damaged lungs and provides them with respiratory support. ECMO also supports the process of healing from infection by maintaining the supply of oxygen to the body while resting the lungs.
Dr. Fawzy, one of a cadre of Qatari doctors in clinical leadership roles at HMC, was tasked with steering the development of HMC’s ECMO Program. “It is a national program to support patients with severe respiratory failure, which was created in light of emerging viruses such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus and H1N1 influenza,” Dr. Fawzy said.
“We started the ECMO service in Hamad General Hospital’s Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU) as a hub and spoke model. We were then able to transport very sick patients there from different hospitals within HMC through our outstanding critical care transport program,” said Dr. Fawzy, who currently serves as Director of HMC’s MICU and its Corporate Critical Care Center, as well as Deputy Medical Director of the Ambulance Service.
Specialized training and cooperation by a multidisciplinary team is required to perform ECMO, a complicated and risky procedure that requires removing blood directly from a large vein close to the heart, oxygenating it outside of the body and returning it directly to the heart. HMC provided Dr. Fawzy and his team with a unique opportunity to train with the UK-based Guy’s and St. Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, which has one of the world’s most successful ECMO programs.
Within a year, Dr. Fawzy’s multidisciplinary team was successfully conducting lifesaving surgery, and HMC’s ECMO program, the first of its kind in the region, was described by the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization, an international organization that monitors extracorporeal services across the globe, as “the fastest and the most comprehensive program that has been built in the Middle East and around the world.”
Dr. Fawzy said being involved in the groundbreaking program and working at HMC, Qatar’s principal public healthcare provider, gives him immense pride.
“It gives me the opportunity to help as many people as much as I can, and this makes me very proud. I see every single patient as my family member and I will do anything to make them feel better, decrease their pain and provide them with a better service,” said Dr. Fawzy.
“It doesn’t matter how good you are – if you don’t have a very solid team around you, you will never be successful. My greatest achievement is being able to develop a team of very highly qualified professionals who will go the extra mile to help their patients, and who raise the bar for other healthcare professionals. I’m very proud of my team and the way they have developed and matured to become well-rounded and well-trained professionals. I’m thankful that there’s plenty of opportunity for me to continue to contribute to HMC’s and Qatar’s growth in years to come,” said Dr. Fawzy.
“When you treat a patient, especially one who is at the brink of death and God has made you the reason he can return to his family, the appreciation that you get from the patient and his family and the joy that you see in their eyes is something unmatched in any other profession. Being part of the team and the profession that makes that difference between life and death for a person is the best joy you can ever have.”
Dr. Fawzy has recently won the US-based Cleveland Clinic’s Young Clinician of the Year Award for the Middle East, and he continues to excel on multiple fronts. Besides working on the ECMO Program, Dr. Fawzy is also responsible for helping to shape the future of Qatar's critical care services, developing HMC’s aeromedical program, and participating in many other projects to improve patient care.