HEARTS OF ECMO MISSION STATEMENT
Hearts of ECMO Inc.’s mission is to provide funding for life saving ECMO research, implementation and training. We aim to connect and expand our network with leading ECMO specialists to help raise awareness among both the public and medical communities as to the uses and benefits of the procedure. Additionally, we hope to create a community for patients and the families of patients that have been treated or are currently being treated with ECMO. Through this common bond, Hearts of ECMO will offer support (both psychologically and financially) through difficult times, as well as provide an established fundraising entity to aide those that want to give back.
NOAH’S STORYOn April 13, 2013 while exercising on a treadmill, Noah fainted due to a severe arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat). This occurred secondary to a pre-existing genetic condition called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), which resulted in a lethal heart rhythm. It was fortunate for Noah that Emily, a resident in his apartment building, witnessed Noah fainting while he was on the treadmill. She immediately called 911 and ran for help. Fortunately that day Sri, another resident, entered the gym just moments after this had occurred. He contacted his partner Jason, a physician, who rushed down to the gym. He immediately detected that Noah was experiencing ventricular fibrillation and initiated high quality CPR. This life saving resuscitation enabled Noah’s heart to continue to pump the needed blood to his body. This is all the more remarkable given that neither Emily nor Sri normally go to the gym at that time. In addition, Jason is usually working at the hospital. In minutes the ambulance arrived and the emergency responders were able to restore Noah’s heart rhythm to a normal heart rate, using a defibrillator.. At this point, Noah was unconscious and it was uncertain as to whether or not there had been damage to his brain, heart or lungs. Noah was immediately taken to Bellevue Hospital where he was placed in a medically induced coma in order to receive hypothermia to minimize any damage to his vital organs. Because of this treatment a respirator was implemented to assist with breathing. Due to Noah’s HCM, it was extremely difficult to wean him off the respirator. Two harrowing attempts failed, and after each attempt, the amount of damage to his lungs progressed to the development of adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Given Noah’s severe lung damage, it was determined that he would need to be transferred to New York-Presbyterian/Columbia in order to receive ECMO treatment. The ECMO team arrived at Bellevue Hospital to begin the tenuous process of introducing the catheters for his journey. This was performed so that the ECMO process could be started, acting as a surrogate lung, to oxygenate his blood. Noah was precariously transported across Manhattan to NYP/Columbia in the pouring rain at 5PM, surviving solely on a battery operated portable ECMO unit. Once Noah arrived safely at the hospital, he was immediately placed on a full-size ECMO machine. Noah was connected to the ECMO machine in the ICU for twenty-one days before he was discharged. If it was not for Noah’s strong physical condition as well as his tenacity and will to live, the outcome would probably have been far less successful. The support from the ECMO team enabled Noah to make a full recovery. He is eagerly embracing his newest challenge; to raise awareness for ECMO and to provide the opportunity for more people to receive the remarkable medical treatment that saved his life!
FRANK’S STORYFrank survived his battle with cancer in 1998. However, his fight left him with a frozen right diaphragm, weak lungs and an even weaker immune system leaving him easily susceptible to illness. In 2012, after a flight to Beijing left him feeling weak, Frank found himself in a Chinese hospital having narrowly escaped a massive heart attack. Having fought for ten days to reach a condition that would allow him to travel home, Frank arrived in New York and was admitted to Cornell Weil Hospital, where surgery was immediately performed to implant a defibrillator. The first defibrillator gave way to a second, and the drugs he was taking to keep his heart in check continued to fail. Frank’s cardiologist referred his case to a heart failure specialist, who determined by way of a heart biopsy, that he was suffering from Giant Cell Myocarditis – for which the only cure is a heart transplant. While waiting for a suitable heart, Frank’s continued to decline and the doctors had to supplement his heart function again with an implanted LVAD (left ventricular assist device). On May 28, 2013, the hospital called to inform Frank that they had found a heart. Early the following morning, the transplant surgery began. By noon, the heart surgeon informed Frank’s family that they were unable to close his chest — an obviously critical situation.Less than 24 hours later, he was experiencing right ventricular dysfunction — an even more critical situation. Frank’s heart team wasted no time putting him on ECMO, which provided cardiac support to his heart for the next four days until they were finally able to close his chest. There’s no doubt in the minds of any of the people involved in his four month recovery that without ECMO Frank would not be telling this story today!