lung rescue

Penn Presbyterian Medical Center is excited to announce that the Penn Lung Rescue Program recently hit two incredible milestones: its 100th mobile ECMO transport, plus its 300th use of ECMO overall!

ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) is a lifesaving treatment option for patients with acute respiratory failure. The system temporarily replaces the lungs by pulling blood from the body, adding oxygen and removing carbon dioxide, and returning the oxygenated blood, thus allowing the lungs to recover. For patients experiencing cardiac failure, ECMO can also temporarily serve as the heart by pumping the newly oxygenated blood. ECMO acts as a support system so the care team can focus on addressing underlying infections, injuries, or clots, while minimizing trauma to the lung and heart tissue.

While ECMO is used to stabilize critical patients in hospitals across the country, the Penn Lung Rescue Program is the only program in the region that was designed to be mobile. When a nearby hospital knows a patient’s best chance for survival requires a transport to PPMC, the options used to be either put them on a helicopter and hope they survive the flight, or keep them on ventilators and hope they eventually stabilize enough for safe transport. Mobile ECMO has changed the game.

This milestone wouldn’t be possible without the smooth coordination and incredible collaborative spirit of each of the team members – the perfusionists, pulmonologists, nurses, PennSTAR flight crew, and support staff – who ensure patients receive the best care possible before they even arrive at PPMC.

“This program has allowed Penn to showcase our abilities in outside hospitals, and this milestone signifies our ability to support a high intensity rescue program with continued process and outcome improvement,” said Jacob Gutsche, MD, system director for Cardiovascular Critical Care and co-medical director of the Penn Lung Rescue Program. “Our volume has been increasing year to year, and we are incorporating more subspecialties, such as interventional pulmonology, to help intervene on patients with acute severe diseases.”

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