ECMO: Baystate Health’s lifesaving COVID-19 treatment


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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – With February being heart month, Baystate Health is highlighting a treatment that’s been used for decades for heart related conditions but is now saving the lives of some of the sickest COVID-19 patients.

It’s called an ECMO. It’s used as a last resort for COVID patients. But the cardiac surgeon 22News spoke with at Baystate said it’s showing results. Baystate Medical Center is the only hospital west of Boston that offers this procedure in the state.

ECMO stands for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. Here’s how it works, the machine pumps the blood and brings oxygen to a persons body, and that allows the lungs to rest.

Doctor Daniel Engelman, the Baystate Cardiac Surgical Critical Care Medical Director, told 22News, “And then we give all the antiviral treatments we can and then the body kind of takes over. And over time, I would say 50% of the people who go on this machine survive to the point where they’re walking out of the hospital. These are the people where 100% of them would have died.”

Doctor Engleman add that while this treatment can be a literal lifesaver, he said the need for it could be avoided if people got vaccinated, and therefore protected themselves from serious illness or death. In fact, every person they’ve used this treatment on here at Baystate, he said, was unvaccinated.

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