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Northwest Texas becomes first local hospital to offer ECMO treatment

Northwest Texas Healthcare System now offers Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) and is the only facility in the Texas Panhandle to use this machine. (File Photo)

Northwest Texas Healthcare System now offers Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) and is the only facility in the Texas Panhandle to use this machine.

According to NWTHS, ECMO is a life-saving machine that mimics the natural function of the heart and lungs by delivering oxygen into the patient's blood.

The ECMO procedure involves channeling the patient's blood into a roller pump that serves as the patient's "heart" throughout treatment. The pump sends blood through an oxygenator, which serves as an artificial lung, infusing the blood with oxygen and removing carbon dioxide and returning it to the patient.

During extracorporeal membrane oxygenation treatment, the patient's heart continues to beat but its work is made easier because the ECMO machine does much of the pumping. The length of time a patient remains on therapy depends on the diagnosis and the patient's individual response.

The machine that the ECMO uses is called the Cardiohelp System. The Cardiohelp System is the world's smallest, portable heart-lung support system making it ideal for transporting patients within and outside the hospital while on support.

"This new program that we have built within Northwest will help save many lives,” said Dr. Thien Vo, Texas Tech Physician and Medical Officer of the Northwest ECMO program. “We are excited to bring an advanced treatment modality to the people of Amarillo and the outlying communities.”

“The staff at Northwest have been working hard on this program for two years”, says Jaime Weiland RN, BSN, ECMO Coordinator. “We are excited to finally launch this life saving treatment modality that will save lives that we wouldn't have been able to save before ECMO."

Candidates for ECMO include those that are suffering from reversible organ damage from illnesses such as respiratory failure, sepsis, blood clots and pneumonia.

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