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ECMO therapy helps COVID-19 patient recover

He was not getting enough oxygen from the ventilators, so doctors decided they needed to try something different.

PHOENIX — Enes Dedic became seriously ill from the coronavirus.

At the worst point, he was in a medically induced coma and is now the first person with COVID-19 in Arizona to survive the ECMO therapy or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation at John C. Lincoln Hospital.

“It allows us a way to treat patients at the extreme end of the disease spectrum that otherwise would’ve died,” said Dr. Ace Ovil, trauma critical care surgeon for HonorHealth.

Enes was not getting enough oxygen from the ventilators and doctors needed to try something different.

ECOM therapy was a shot in the dark – it had worked in other lung illnesses but there wasn’t a lot of data to show it could work for COVID-19 patients.

“Functionally like an artificial lung that we use to supplement the patient's own breathing on the ventilator,” said Dr. Ovil.

The ECMO machine removes blood from the body, pumps oxygen into the blood, then pumps it back into the body.

Doctors say it's not a cure – it just buys the patient more time to recover from the virus.

“So, their peripheral tissues, their kidneys, their brain, their remaining organs don’t suffer from a lack of oxygen,” said Dr. Ovil.

Enes’ treatment lasted 10 days while he was in an induced coma.

He’s still in ICU as of Tuesday, but he's in great spirits, according to his wife –who is extremely grateful to the doctors and staff for saving her husband’s life.

“I’ll be lucky and happy to hug him and kiss him because I didn’t get to see him for 30 days,” said Olivera Dedic, Enes’ wife.


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