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South Coast Gets Potentially Life-Saving Medical Equipment For Critically-Ill COVID-19 Patients

(Marian Regional Medical Center photo)

A potentially life-saving piece of medical equipment for critically-ill COVID-19 patients is now available on the Central Coast.

Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria, has secured the Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) medical technology for critically-ill COVID-19 patients and others experiencing life-threatening conditions.

The region's most critically ill patients in need of the life-saving procedure were previously being transferred out of the area to larger facilities.

Paul Parry is a Cardiac Surgeon at Santa Maria’s Marian Regional Medical Center and explained to KCLU that the equipment is similar to the heart-lung bypass machine used in open heart surgery as it pumps and oxygenates a patient's blood outside the body, allowing the heart and lungs to rest.

When patients receive ECMO treatment, blood flows through tubing to an artificial lung in the machine that adds oxygen and takes out carbon dioxide; then the blood is warmed to body temperature and pumped back into the body. 

Marian’s ECMO is now treating patients and is the only hospital between the San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles with this advanced life-saving equipment, mitigating the need to travel outside the area for care.

The equipment was funded by a donation from the Mark & Dorothy Smith Family Foundation in honor of Santa Maria residents Louis and Melissa Meza. 

Melissa Meza experienced severe complications due to COVID-19 which required various treatments and an emergency transfer to a Santa Monica hospital to receive the life-saving ECMO treatment.

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