Palestinians' Erekat on heart-lung machine

PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat is on a heart-lung machine after contracting coronavirus.
PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erekat is on a heart-lung machine after contracting coronavirus.

Prominent Palestinian leader Saeb Erekat, who is seriously ill after having been infected with the coronavirus, has been connected to a heart-lung machine, the Israeli hospital treating him says.

The Hadassah Medical Centre in Jerusalem said the 65-year-old was connected to an ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) machine to support his lung function.

The machine oxygenates the blood, allowing the lungs to rest and avoid ventilator-associated lung injury, bearing in mind that Erekat had a lung transplant in 2017.

The hospital said Erekat was "well-settled and stable."

"His care continues to be co-ordinated with lung transplant specialists in Israel and abroad to provide optimum care to this patient with complications of Covid-19 infection on the background of a previous lung transplant," the statement added.

Doctors said Erekat's treatment posed "an enormous challenge" as a lung-transplant patient with a suppressed immune system, which had caused a bacterial infection in addition to the virus.

The long-time chief Palestinian negotiator, who is secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this month.

Erekat is one of the most visible Palestinian officials on the world stage and a top aide to President Mahmoud Abbas.

His treatment by Israeli doctors prompted a host of comments on social media, including by pro-Israeli activists, who blasted that despite Erekat's frequent comparisons of Israel's policies against the Palestinians with South Africa's system of apartheid, he was now receiving equal medical care.

Australian Associated Press