Kris Boeckmans has been able to complete one step in his treatment process, though he is still unable to breathe autonomously and is set to remain in an induced coma for the immediate future.
The Belgian crashed heavily on stage 8 of the Vuelta a España 10 days ago, suffering facial trauma with several fractures, concussion, broken ribs, pneumothorax, laceration and bleeding of the lung, and swollen pulmonary tissue.
He was medically induced into a coma and has since been treated by a process called Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO), which is essentially an artificial, external lung. He has now been able to come off that, though he still requires breathing support and faces another week in a coma.
“Since yesterday we were able to stop the ECMO treatment. This is a device that can replace the lungs by extracting poorly oxygenized blood from the body and injecting oxygen rich blood. In the way the lung can heal without the other body tissues restricted from oxygen," said Lotto-Soudal doctor Servaas Bingé in a team statement.
"The drainage of the lungs was also removed. Kris stays on ventilation support through a tracheal cannula, though."
Boeckmans remains in the intensive care unit at Murcia hospital, where he is accompanied by his family and Bingé. One week ago, the team hoped that they would be able to start to wake Boeckmans up in "24 to 48 hours", though Bingé stressed it was a "day by day" situation.
Day by day remains the mantra as the 28-year-old is set to be monitored over the coming days to assess when it will be possible to bring him out of the coma.
“In the next days they will see when the induced coma can be diminished. Therefore we need stable blood parameters of course. We still have to deal with a polytrauma patient, whose injuries will take a long time to heal, but we hope to see that Kris’ condition will improve day by day.”