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Two weeks on life support, 32 surgeries, one amazing tale

Legacy Emanuel Medical Center | ECMO, Intensive Care (ICU)

As with many people in late 2009, Tom Trautman came down with a case of H1NI “swine” flu. Unlike most others though, Tom’s illness grew worse. Much worse.

A few days before Christmas, Tom, a father of five who lives in Camas, Wash., went into a coma and in intensive care. “Everything was shutting down, all my organs,” Tom explains. Andy Michaels, M.D., a surgeon at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, gave Tom a 10 percent chance to survive.

The H1N1 virus inflames the lungs, making it difficult for some people to breathe. The staff at Legacy Emanuel placed Tom on a machine called ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation). It is a treatment that brings oxygen to the blood outside the patient’s body, allowing the lungs to rest and heal.

Legacy Emanuel has one of the most complete programs in Oregon and has used ECMO on 15 H1N1 patients, likely more than any hospital in the country.

On the 13th day of his hospitalization, Tom was removed from ECMO after he came out of his coma. “I’ll never forget it,” says his wife, Becky. “I walked into the room and … he opened his eyes. I started bawling."