Hartford Hospital Technology Saves Lives During Flu Season

Hartford Hospital doctors used a heart-lung machine during 2018’s deadly flu season to save the lives of patients who experienced respiratory failure because of the virus.

The machine, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), is a bypass device that directly oxygenates the blood so failing hearts and lungs can rest and recover. The device does the work of the heart and lungs outside of the body — taking in the patient’s un oxygenated blood through plastic tubing that is attached to the patient, pumping it through the machine and returning oxygenated blood into the patient’s body.

Hartford Hospital is one of the few area hospitals to offer ECMO, and the only hospital in New England currently providing “ECMO on-the-go,” in which a team of specialists can bring ECMO to another hospital when they have a patient who needs life-saving intervention.

Such was the case of Luis Cordeiro, who two years ago developed Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) because of the flu. Hartford Hospital doctors placed Cordeiro on ECMO. He survived and made a full recovery.

“They told my wife I had a 10 percent chance to survive,” he said. “I am here two years later, back to work, everything is back to normal.”

“I am so grateful to Dr. Gluck and his team for saving my husband’s life,” said Victoria Cordeiro, Luis’ wife. “I had no idea what ECMO was. My husband’s life was saved because of this technology, and I want others to know that this is available at Hartford Hospital.”