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.
They're facing an uphill battle to find an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or "EMCO," machine, which doctors say may be the only thing that can save her.
In an exclusive interview, Chris Smith joined Good Day Orlando on Wednesday to discuss the latest on his wife Ashley's condition.
"She's not doing too well. Last night we had a scare. Her oxygen dropped. They actually had to change her tube and when I talked to the nurse last night, they said they don't know if she can survive the transport."
The good thing is that a lot of treatment facilities can bring the machine to her and transport her to the hospital. Now it's just about finding one.
"So they can't give up. And I don't want them to give up on me because I will never give up on my wife."
Chris says Ashley 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.
Ashley was 13-weeks pregnant but lost the baby while fighting the virus.
"This has ruined our life."
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. "I know that there is someone out there that can help us. I'm just not finding it yet. But I'm not giving up hope."
Chris says Ashley is a fighter and can beat this.
"But if I can help her, I will."
You can donate to her GoFundMe HERE.
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