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First Arizona COVID-19 patient treated with ECMO therapy survives, HonorHealth reports

ECMO patient
Posted at 7:57 AM, Apr 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-16 17:26:13-04

PHOENIX, AZ — HonorHealth announced the survival of the very first Arizona coronavirus patient placed on a special therapy machine.

The medical group says the patient received an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (or ECMO) treatment. The ECMO therapy removes blood from the body, pumps it with oxygen, and replaces the blood back into the body. The machine relieves strain on damaged organs, like the lungs and heart, according to a press release from HonorHealth.

HonorHealth says the patient was a 53-year-old man with “minimal risk factors” of high blood pressure and pre-diabetes, officials say. He came to HonorHealth Deer Valley Medical Center after being symptomatic of COVID-19, with a fever, chills, body aches and nausea, for several weeks at home. The man had reportedly traveled overseas to visit family.

After he was admitted into the hospital, his health “deteriorated rapidly” and he was transferred to another medical center for further treatment.

He spent 10 days in a medical-induced coma on ECMO.

“On day 11, he woke up, became immediately responsive, and has been FaceTiming with his family while recovering in the ICU,” the press release states.

The patient is one of the first COVID-19 ECMO survivors in the country documented by the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization. The registry currently lists only 10 survivors worldwide.

“The survival of our patient required a tremendous team effort including physicians respiratory therapists, nurses and even housekeeping to address unique ways in which to care for, monitor and sanitize our unit for the best possible care,” said Dr. Robert Riley, chief of cardiothoracic surgery at HonorHealth and part of HonorHealth’s Cardiovascular Center of Excellence. “I can’t emphasize enough that this was truly an out-of-the-box approach to care.”

Medical centers from around the country are working to learn more about the treatment in order to treat more patients with their advice.