MILWAUKEE, April 27, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- A 27-year-old Jackson, Wisconsin, man is recovering from COVID-19 after being treated with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) and convalescent plasma at the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) health network. After two weeks in the hospital, the father of two is now back home.
Billy S. first went to the emergency room at the Froedtert West Bend Hospital on April 13 after a week of nausea and a fever. Within a few hours, his condition worsened dramatically, and he had to be intubated to help him breathe. After a few days on a ventilator with no improvement in his condition, he was transferred to Froedtert Hospital where he was taken off the ventilator, given convalescent plasma and placed on ECMO, a machine that pumps and oxygenates blood outside the body, allowing the heart and lungs to rest. Five days later, his condition had improved enough to be taken off the device.
Billy has no pre-existing conditions. He believes he contracted the virus while traveling for work.
"ECMO is proving to be a promising solution when ventilators are not helping COVID-19 patients improve, and we are actually seeing better outcomes for these individuals within 12-24 hours of being placed on ECMO," said Lucian Durham III, MD, PhD, associate professor at MCW and cardiothoracic surgeon at Froedtert & MCW. "Billy's successful outcome truly speaks to the skill and experience of our ECMO team, and to the tremendous collaboration with our community hospitals that enable patients around the region to receive world-class care."
Billy's case will help COVID-19 patients around the globe, as Froedtert & MCW's ECMO team is participating in the ECMOCARD (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation for 2019 novel Coronavirus Acute Respiratory Disease) study, a multi-center, international, observational study of novel coronavirus patients in intensive care units. This patient's health information will be added to a comprehensive registry on the treatment and outcomes of patients requiring a collaboration of multidisciplinary care and protocols, including ECMO, for COVID-19.
Billy said he was inspired to fight and motivated by support from his loving family, his trucking community, Aaron Lewis' music, strangers who rallied for him, and the unending care of medical staff at Froedtert & MCW. "I'm lost for words, but I'm very thankful," he said. "Without them, I would for sure be dead right now."