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ECMO support: Providing rest to heart and lungs in the time of COVID-19

If you’re tired, if you’re exhausted, what do you do? You get a good night’s sleep and wake up fresh the next morning, ready to get back to work.

In a similar way, that’s what the Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) machine does, according to ECMO Medical Director Lovkesh Arora, MBBS, MD.

Lovkesh Arora, MBBS, MD Lovkesh Arora, MBBS, MD

“It’s not a treatment, but a supportive device for providing prolonged physiological rest to a sick heart or lungs, or both, in an intensive care unit until the patient recovers from the initial injury,” he says.

As the pandemic has evolved, there has been a steady increase in ECMO use. So far globally, around 2,570 COVID-19 patients have received ECMO support, according to the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO) registry.

At UI Hospitals & Clinics, the ECMO program has supported twelve patients with COVID-19, including two pregnant mothers, to date. It’s typically seen as a last-resort form of life support.

Read more about the ECMO program's work with COVID-19 patients.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020