With the number of flu-related deaths on the rise in the U.S. and here in Connecticut, Hartford Hospital doctors have had to use heart-lung machine this winter to save the lives of patients who experience respiratory failure because of the virus.
ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygentation) is a bypass device that directly oxygenates the blood so failing hearts and lungs can rest and recover.
The device does the work of the heart and lungs outside of the body – taking in the patient’s un-oxygenated blood through plastic tubing that is attached to the patient, pumping it through the machine and returning oxygenated blood into the patient’s body.
“What it does is essentially allow the body to rest and not have to add oxygen,” said Dr. Jason Gluck, Medical Director, Mechanical Circulatory Support/ECMO.
Hartford Hospital is one of the few area hospitals to offer ECMO, and the only hospital in New England currently providing “ECMO-on-the-go,” in which a team of specialists can bring ECMO to another hospital when they have a patient who needs life-saving intervention.
Such was the case of Luis Cordeiro, who two years ago developed Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) because of the flu. Hartford Hospital doctors placed Cordeiro on ECMO. He survived and made a full recovery.
“They told my wife I had a 10 percent chance to survive,” he said. “I am here two years later, back to work, everything is back to normal.”
“I am so grateful to Dr. Gluck and his team for saving my husband’s life,” said Victoria Cordeiro, Luis’ wife. “I had no idea what ECMO was. My husband’s life was saved because of this technology, and I want others to know that this is available at Hartford Hospital.”