Resources For You and Your Loved One ECMO Patient and Family Resources

What is ECMO?

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is a short-term device that provides support to vital organs when the heart and lungs are failing.

An ECMO machine runs 24 hours a day. It allows blood to flow to the machine and back in a closed circuit, returning oxygenated blood to the body similar to how your heart pumps. This allows the heart and lungs to rest temporarily. The ECMO team, adjusts the machine to support your loved one throughout the day, ensuring they receive the best possible care.

ECMO for COVID-19:

COVID-19 can cause lung damage, and in severe cases, may cause the lungs to stop working. For some patients, VV ECMO may be used as temporary life support to evaluate lung recovery. Patients on VV ECMO for COVID-19 may have different needs and goals than patients on ECMO for other reasons. In addition, visitation may be intermittently restricted during their hospital stay due to the COVID-19 infection.

Conquering COVID: Maria's Story

In October 2020, Maria Young — an active 41-year-old woman — arrived at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, with COVID-19 and double pneumonia. A staggering 130 days later, Maria returned to her family. At the hospital, she spent 69 days on ECMO and more than 100 days on a ventilator.

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