Mobile ICU, ECMO send man on life-saving journey
When David Strasser, 69, a retired grandfather in Bend, went to a nearby emergency room with breathing problems one day in early April 2016, he didn’t realize he was beginning a life-saving journey.
The doctors found that David had such severe pneumonia that they couldn’t get enough oxygen in his lungs. “Things were foggy,” David says of his time in the ER, “almost like a dream.”
Fortunately, his doctor at St. Charles Medical Center knew about a specialized treatment at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center that could help David breathe. The doctor called and Legacy Emanuel’s mobile critical care team responded. A team of six, including two surgeons, flew immediately to Bend and kept David alive on the airplane while taking him to Portland.
Helping patients breathe
The technology David needed is called “ECMO,” which stands for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. ECMO is a bedside machine that oxygenates the blood so that the lungs don’t have to. It allows the lungs to heal, while keeping the patient breathing.
Admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at Legacy Emanuel, David was hooked up to an ECMO machine, where he stayed for five days. During his illness, his kidneys failed, and he needed daily dialysis.
Despite the setbacks, David survived and regained consciousness. “The first thing I remember was the nurses,” he recalls. “They went above and beyond to make sure I was comfortable. Nights when I had trouble sleeping, nurses Chris and Craig would come in the room and talk sports.”
Thanks to the life-saving technology
While still in the hospital, David celebrated his 70th birthday on May 26 with his wife of 46 years, Vicki. The retired school teacher brought cakes for the nursing staff, who sang “Happy Birthday” to David.
In June, David returned to Bend, where he worked on getting his strength back, tinkering with his 1936 and 1951 Fords and looking forward to visiting a new grandchild in Colorado –– all possible thanks to the life-saving technology at Legacy Emanuel.
Go here to learn more about ECMO.
Media inquiries: Vicki Guinn, 503-413-2939 or firstname.lastname@example.org