VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. - The family of a 30-year-old Volusia County woman hospitalized with COVID-19 is desperate to find a special life support machine to help save her life.
Chris Smith tells FOX 35 his wife Ashley Smith got sick on July 31. A week later, she was admitted into Halifax Health in Daytona Beach. Since then, he says updates from doctors have been negative.
Now they face an uphill battle to find an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or "EMCO," machine. He says doctors say it may be the only thing that can save her.
"Do anything I can do to get anyone to talk to me about an ECMO machine or if we can transfer her. Anything at all," he said.
Smith said his wife was 13-weeks pregnant but lost the baby while fighting the virus.
Christine Stead is the CEO of ELSO, an organization that tracks the use of ECMO machines worldwide. She tells FOX 35 the treatment is a form of life-support that does the work of your heart and lungs. She said for COVID-19 patients, it gives their lungs a break.
"Give the patient's lungs more of a break, and so you can decrease ventilator setting or take a patient off a ventilator entirely because the work of the lungs is being done outside of the patient’s body on this machine," she said.
But finding one right now, she said, is no easy task.
Because the machines require specialized training, staff, and space, she says only a few hundred hospitals in the U.S. offer the treatment.
To make matters worse, the current COVID surge is causing centers to hit capacity and people are in line to use them.
As he hopes for a miracle, Chris says he’s filled with regret that he and his wife did not get vaccinated. He’s now asking others to learn from what he calls the biggest mistake of his life.
"Because nobody wants to go through what I’m going through. It’s an endless nightmare," he said.
You can donate to her GoFundMe HERE.
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