LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — A treatment is saving critically ill COVID-19 patients. There is only one hospital in Nevada with this special machine that is a lifeline for some of the sickest people.
Medical experts are calling it a lifeline for COVID-19 patients. Dr. Steven Merta the chief medical officer at Sunrise Hospital says it will help save many from dying of COVID-19.
“Its primary role is to add oxygen into your blood when your lungs are unable to meet that requirement,” Merta said.
It is a machine keeping many alive during their final fight against the virus. The program is called ECMO, which stands for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.
Sunrise Hospital is the only place in the state of Nevada to have this system.
“We were able to use the ECMO capabilities, which we call Venus ECMO to oxygenate while the lungs heal,” Merta said.
He says the healing time can take anywhere from two to six weeks. During that time the machine removes all of the blood from the body, oxygenates it, and pumps it back in as the heart and lungs rest.
He says this treatment is the last resort of life support, they’ve helped more than 40 patients.
“Our last look at the data we have been blessed to provide a bit more than 50% of survival,” Merta said.
He says currently they are prioritizing local patients over requests that are coming in from out of state, but he says meeting the demand for this system in the valley is very difficult especially during this surge.
“There are highly specialized nursing teams to manage these patients, perfusionist teams, cardiothoracic surgeons, very intensive and that is why they are scarce,” Merta said.
He says the best thing about being on an ECMO machine is not being on one at all.
“Do everything in your power to take care of yourself and your family, wash your hands, social distance, wear your mask, if you are not vaccinated, vaccinate. Vaccinate don’t hesitate,” Merta said.
There are approximately only 50 of these ECMO systems throughout the west coast.
Click here for a map to see which ECMO systems are available and closest to you.