Florida sees shortage in available ECMO machines to help COVID-19 patients

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — For COVID-19 patients, ECMO is a last-resort treatment option.

The ECMO process pumps the patient’s blood into a machine that bypasses the heart and lungs so they can rest and heal, then sends reoxygenated blood back into the body.

But all ECMO machines in Florida are being used, and there’s a long list of patients who need one.

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“We have patients that need a technology that could potentially save their lives, and it’s just not available because of the demand,” said Glenn Waters with Baycare Health System, which has seven ECMO machines.

“Over the last couple of months they’ve been full, we’ve had patients in those beds nonstop. And we’ve had patients we have not been able to treat because we didn’t have any additional beds or staff capable of doing that,” Waters said.

Waters said they’ve looked across the state for machines to serve these patients, but nothing is available.

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AdventHealth’s main hospital in Orlando has 20 ECMO machines, and they’re all being used.

AdventHealth is taking donations to the ECMO unit, which is part of its Cardiovascular Institute. Click here to donate.

People can also put EMCO in the comment section and that will make sure it goes to support the specific program.

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