Swine flu Brit flown to Sweden for care

A gravely ill pregnant woman from Britain who is suffering from the swine flu is in Sweden for treatment due to a lack of specialist beds in Britain.

The 26-year-old woman, a native of Scotland, needed treatment that involves pumping the patient’s blood through a machine which artificially adds oxygen.

There are five specialist beds in Britain for the technique, known as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), at a hospital in Leicester, central England, but they are currently all taken, so officials decided to fly the woman to Stockholm instead.

She is now receiving treatment at Karolinska University Hospital in Solna, north of the Swedish capital.

“Once an ECMO bed was identified in Sweden, our intensive care specialists worked closely with our Swedish colleagues to make sure the patient was stable before being transferred,” said Robert Masterton, executive director of her local National Health Service board in Ayrshire and Arran, western Scotland.

Officials said Thursday that there were around 100,000 new cases of swine flu in England last week as a new website and telephone service was launched to help people identify symptoms and receive drugs.

The government reported “unprecedented demand” for the site, which received around 2,600 hits per second or 9.3 million an hour on its first day Thursday, and was briefly overloaded.

Some 30 deaths have been linked to swine flu in Britain, which has been hit harder than any other European country by the A(H1N1) virus.

Scotland’s Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon told the BBC: “She’s now getting treatment that gives her the best possible chance of survival.”

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