Quick action between hospitals saves a grandfather’s life
Bend resident David Strasser, 70, is grateful to be alive thanks to physicians at St. Charles Medical Center and a call made to dispatch the Legacy Emanuel’s life-saving mobile ECMO team. The retired grandfather began his life-saving journey a year ago.
David had such severe pneumonia that they couldn’t get enough oxygen in his lungs. “That day, things were foggy like a dream,” says David, who had other underlying health issues so a diagnosis of pneumonia was serious.
Fortunately, St. Charles Pulmonologist Louis D’Avignon, MD, knew about Legacy Emanuel’s ECMO program. “Fortunately, it’s a rare occasion when we have to make this call,” says Dr. D’Avignon. “Knowing Legacy Emanuel has this life-saving service and can dispatch a mobile team to assess and transport patients back to their medical center is very positive.”
ECMO, or Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation, is a sophisticated procedure, similar to the heart-lung bypass machine used in cardiac surgery, which takes over the oxygenation and heart function in patients with serious lung disease, cardiac disease or trauma. When a physician makes this call, patients are on the verge of dying.
Legacy Emanuel’s six-person mobile ECMO team flew immediately to Bend in a medically-equipped jet to start David on ECMO therapy while transporting him to Legacy Emanuel.
“We have one of the oldest mobile transport teams and the only one in the state,” says Dr. Ivonne Daly, MD, F.A.C.S., Legacy Emanuel’s director of the ECMO program. “We transport patients from all over Oregon, even Montana and as far north as Alaska. It’s important for other hospitals and physicians to know that our mobile team of highly-skilled healthcare professionals is ready to be dispatched by ambulance or air; whatever will get us there the quickest to help save a life.”
Legacy Emanuel’s mobile team is part of Legacy Emanuel’s award-winning Gold-level ECMO program. It was the second program on the west coast, established in 1986 after the Mt. Hood climbing disaster when several victims needed cardiopulmonary bypass technology to survive.
After two months, David was released to go home to Bend, this time riding upright in a medical transport vehicle. He was anxious to get his strength back to start enjoying retirement again and to visit a new grandchild in Colorado. His healing and this winter’s heavy snowfall delayed. Now that it’s spring he’s finally going to see the new grandchild. “I’m here because I had a doctor who knew to make the call and because of the people who are a part of this mobile life-saving team.”
For more information on Legacy Emanuel's ECMO Program visit: http://www.legacyhealth.org/for-health-professionals/refer-a-patient/ecmo-for-providers.aspx
Photo caption: A photo of David and Vicki Strasser sits atop an ECMO machine at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland Ore. Portrait provided by David Strasser. Photo: Vicki Guinn
Photo caption: David Strasser felt well enough this winter to ride his tractor/snowblower to plow his driveway and to help his neighbors. Bend, Ore. Photo: David Strasser.
Dr. Ivonne Daly, MD, F.A.C.S., Legacy Emanuel’s director of the ECMO program.
Media contact: Vicki Guinn, 503-413-2939, firstname.lastname@example.org.