Life Magazine EN 1
ECMO, illustrated in this image, has been key in
fighting the virus outbreak. Facts/ECMO* A therapy that is used for patients with acute respiratory distress syndromes. ECMO can be considered after regular ventilation therapy does not work. ECMO therapy supports patients during the pandemic In reports about the treatment of COVID-19 patients, ventilators are often in focus. But when they are not enough, there is a final possible solution: Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO). The very first COVID-19 patient at York Hospital, U.K., was treated with ECMO in March this year. T 18 he patient showed up at the hospital in mid-March, showing aggressive symptoms of the virus. He was believed to be the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in York, according to York Daily Record. At first, he was placed on a ventilator, but when that did not help, the hospital team decided that he should be put on the ECMO program. ECMO therapy can be risky, and it is certainly not for everyone. A candidate should have few comorbidities and cannot be too old. However, patients well over 50 years old have been successfully treated with ECMO. Stefan Koch, Getinge’s Head of Training and Simulation Cardiopulmonary explains how it works: “Blood containing a low amount of oxygen and a high concentration of carbon dioxide leaves through a catheter inserted into a large vein. It connects to an oxygenator that adds oxygen and removes carbon dioxide. With ECMO, the doctors can gain time to take the right measures and it gives the patients lungs time to heal.” During spring, more and more stories have been published in media about COVID-19 patients that have been saved by ECMO. Recently, Michigan Medicine of University of Michigan reported through its news website that almost 500 patients had been on ECMO treatment worldwide, and the number is probably growing. In many cases, it is Getinge’s solutions that are supporting medtech teams around the world to perform ECMO. The survival rate for the treatment is yet to be analyzed further in the pandemic, when more data will be available. During the swine flu (H1N1) when ECMO also was used, the rates were fairly high, around 60 percent, according to Michigan Medicine’s website. As for the patient in York, the story ended happily, as reported in York Daily Record. He was on ECMO for eight days. From arriving at the hospital being close to death, the patient could walk home fully recovered. ○ Depending on configuration, ECMO can be used for lung support (as in the case of COVID-19) and it can be used for both heart and lung support. The main purpose is to maintain oxygenation of the organs. ECMO replaces the lung function by oxygenating the patient’s blood outside of the body, i.e. extracorporeal. *ECMO therapy is sometimes called ECLS therapy, which stands for Extra Corporeal Life Support. The ECMO therapy procedure may differ from country to country. 2,407 The number of confirmed COVID-19 patients worldwide that have been treated with ECMO/ ECLS during the pandemic up until September 2020.