Public/Global Health

Arizona man becomes state’s first to survive coronavirus after undergoing rare blood treatment


An Arizona man became the first in the state to survive coronavirus after being treated with a rare blood treatment called extracorporeal membrane oxygenation therapy (ECMO), the hospital announced Monday. 

Enes Dedic, 53, is among the first U.S. COVID-19 patients to survive with ECMO therapy and is one of about 10 coronavirus patients to survive the therapy worldwide, The Arizona Republic reported.

ECMO was used as a last resort as Dedic was close to death while on a ventilator at HonorHealth John C. Lincoln Medical Center in Phoenix.

Ten days after being in a medical coma on ECMO therapy, the patient woke up responsive and soon FaceTimed his wife, according to the Republic.

ECMO therapy helps oxygenate blood outside the body, so the blood doesn’t need to travel through damaged lungs. The blood travels through tubes to an artificial lung that removes carbon dioxide and adds oxygen.

The mortality rate for ECMO therapy is 40 percent, which Dedric’s doctors called “extraordinarily high for almost any medical procedure,” the Republic reported.

Dedric initially developed symptoms of fevers, chills, aches and nausea after traveling overseas. Once transferred to the Phoenix hospital, he received increased ventilation and every potential drug used to treat coronavirus, including hydroxychloroquine.

ECMO has been utilized for H1N1 flu and lung injury patients for several years, but it’s costs sometimes outweigh the benefits and the equipment for it is scarce, trauma and clinical care surgeon Ace Ovil told the newspaper. 

For every 50 to 100 ventilators, there is one ECMO machine, Robert Riley, chief of cardiothoracic surgery at the hospital, told the Republic.  

The Food and Drug Administration issued guidance last week to increase access to ECMO machines for the coronavirus pandemic.

Arizona has confirmed 3,806 cases of coronavirus, leading to 131 deaths. Nationwide, the U.S. has documented at least 609,685 cases and 26,059 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Tags Arizona Coronavirus COVID-19 ECMO Phoenix

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