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Hey guys, my blog this week is going to be a little different. Instead of telling you things that are current in my life, I’m going to tell you a little bit about my past. About some complications I had at birth and how I was saved by the power of prayer and a wonderful medical staff.

I was born in Charleston, South Carolina on September 16th, 1988 in the Naval hospital. I appeared to be full term, but my lungs were under developed and failing. I was transferred to MUSC where they had much more advanced technology to offer. Since my lungs hadn’t developed, they had to put me on an ECMO (Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) machine, that does my lung’s work for me so they could rest and heal.

To initiate ECMO, cannulae are placed in large blood vessels to provide access to the patient’s blood. Anticoagulant drugs, usually heparin, are given to prevent blood clotting. The ECMO machine continuously pumps blood from the patient through a membrane oxygenator that imitates the gas exchange process of the lungs, i.e. it removes carbon dioxide and adds oxygen. Oxygenated blood is then returned to the patient. Management of the ECMO circuit is done by a team of ECMO specialists that includes intensive care unit (ICU) physicians,physician assistants, perfusionists, Registered Nurses,respiratory therapists, and Medical Laboratory Technologists that have received training in this specialty. (wikipedia.org)

Basically, two tubes were inserted into my neck, one into my carotid artery and one into my internal jugular vein to remove and return blood to my body. From my neck the tubes run my blood continuously to a membrane oxygenator, that removes the carbon dioxide from my blood and adds oxygen, then the blood is warmed and sent back to me. It literally does my lung’s work so they don’t have to and they can finish developing.

Before me, no one in the state of South Carolina had survived this procedure and at one point I was given a 20% chance of survival.. Needless to say my family was in a constant state of prayer. All of my family except for us at that time lived around the Charlotte, NC area. But everyone was driving back and forth all the time just to sit and pray for me. My Nana found a verse and dedicated it to me. It’s Job 33:4 which says, “The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.” That to me is pretty powerful to think about, and it’s exactly what happened. And to this day, that’s my favorite bible verse.

I was on the machine for 10 days before they decided I was healthy enough to breathe on my own. I was blessed with a brilliant medical staff at MUSC. The staff God knew I would be in good hands with.

I was left with a scar on the right side of my neck as a reminder of what God did for me that day. He wanted me to live and He saw that it happened. Prayers were answered, Glory to God.

This isn’t me, it’s a baby named Jordan, but this is what it looks like to be on ECMO

So that’s a little of my history, I thought it might be interesting for you guys to know something about me that a lot of people don’t. Here’s some links if you’d like to read more about it:

http://www.musc.edu/catalyst/archive/1997/co10-17where.htm (scroll down to “October 1988”)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extracorporeal_membrane_oxygenation

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20 Comments

  1. Wow, this is interesting!! Amazing, how good God is to us, and how he takes care of us. I had wondered where that scar came from, you’ve got the neatest story behind it! Thanks for sharing, Josh!!

  2. I LOVE that scar. For without it, there’d be no you. ❤ Yes, God knew what He was doing…doesn't He always? I love you.

  3. Amazing story! Thanks so much for sharing!
    God is definitely has a purpose for your life! 🙂

  4. Hey you told us this story after the show in Hugo, OK, when we were visiting! You are living proof of God’s amazing work! God Bless, Jessie

  5. God is good!

  6. Wow, I had no idea! That is an amazing story. Thanks so much for sharing, Josh! That is so incredible. God is so gracious to us.

  7. hello
    my name is patricia your story is very interesting,my family and i are going through the same thing yours did my granddaughter is 2 in a half months old and she is on ecmo and a few other machines at cooks childrens in fort worth texas we are all praying for her,your story gives me hope.thank you

  8. I also had ECMO but in 1987, in December. My scar is on the left side of my neck. I don’t know why that’s important, I just feel like usually these thing are more global practice, I guess such a thing doesn’t matter. My scar is particularly awful as they apparently let a very stupid Nurse cradle me after the I had been stitched.. She didn’t support my head and my neck burst open. My dad was there to place his palm over the open artery, and they had to quickly stitch it back up … so yeah, my scar is a mess.

    It’s always nice to hear stories of other people who had survived ECMO, especially around the same as me. I was past-due and suffered maeconium aspiration. They put me on echmo so they could then run tubes in and out of my lungs to clean them.

    I wasn’t supposed to live either…

  9. My daughter had a Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia and was born via EXIT-to-ECMO on June 9, 2010. Sadly, after 16 days, she left us to go to heaven. ECMO is a brutal machine, but can save lives and because of it, we had 16 days with our daughter. Many, many CDH babies end up on ECMO and many parents, like us, are forced to make the decision to remove their babies from it because they are too sick to ever recover. I am writing to ask a favor. 50% of CDH babies die. There is no known cause, cure, or guaranteed treatment for it. It is just as common as spina bifida and cystic fibrosis, but no one ever hears of it and research is severely underfunded. CHERUBS, the official charity for CDH is in the Vivint Gives Back contest to win money for the cause, but they are falling behind and we need more votes. Any help we can get is appreciated. Please consider voting every day for CHERUBS and pass this along. Thank you. http://www.vivint.com/givesbackproject/charity/3

  10. Hi there,
    my two years old daughter has been saved by ECMO this month after getting an atypical pneumonia. She’s only the second case of application of ECMO in Sardinia (where we live) so far. She could not be transferred elsewhere before of her conditions.
    Thanks ECMO!

  11. Please pray for newborn baby Levi, who is currently on the ECMO. http://www.facebook.com/groups/231227060251336/

  12. God is good. I too have an ECMO story. My youngest was supposed to be born in Canada. We were supposed to move while I was pregnant. But something went wrong with the move and they asked us to wait. I do believe God had a hand in our delay. She was born 3 weeks late, with Merconium Aspiration. She had her first bowel movement then her first breath in utero, sucking that nasty tarlike merconium into her lungs. She moved to another hospital where ECMO was available and went on a few days later. She came home at 20 days old. She’s now 17. According to her pediatrician at that time Canada only had a couple of ECMO machines. I believe there was divine intervention.

  13. This has nothing to do with God. It´s just high End Medicine

    • You are so wrong …God gives the genius for the invention.

  14. I was on ECMO too!!! For 17 days and then they I got my trach tube, and I had that for 4 years. I’ve never met anyone else who had had this procedure too! It’s amazing what a machine can do for such a tiny infant! We’re both miracles 🙂

  15. My granddaughter was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome at Charlotte Medical Center and immediately placed in NICU. Having been a critical care nurse for 35+ years with 26 years in coronary care and CVICU I was allowed in for the delivery. She had her first open-heart surgery within the first 5 days. She spent the next two months off and on the vent, fighting staph infection (not MRSA), trying to go into NEC, She was allowed to go home with her parents with a feeding tube (PEG) to her jejunum with a tightly controlled dietician calculated feeding, on high tech monitoring with visits several times weekly by her cardiovascul team and speech therapist to assist with her sucking in order that she would be receptive to oral food when able. Her parents were extremely diligent in their care of her, impressing the cardiovascular team and the cariology team. After almost 2 weeks at home of closely monitoring her tube feeds and finally10-15 mls bottle feeding 2-3 times daily, she received pediatricion vaccine for rotovirus vaccine, which the team at Levine Children’s (part of CMC) had advised that she received Thursday or Friday the second week at home (difficult trip with all the medical equipment attached to her. They told her mother it would be a milder version of what they could give in hospital. The following Monday she developed severe diarhea (7 loose stools that morning) and developed an elevated temperature. She was advised to take infant to the local pediatricion by the cardiac team in order to have blood drawn, even though they had had an extremely difficult obtaining blood draws even while in hospital on good days and often they had to guess the level of her electrolyes smf blood studies. Of course, the local pediatricion was unable to draw blood after trying for hours. Her mom was instructed to continue her lasix, even though she’d become extremely dehydrated and they had pulled her off her feeds. Her mother was smart enough to hold one dose of lasix, having grown up living with a critical care nurse. The CMC team had them take her to ED, where they had a team waiting for them. They still did not want to hydrate her and could not get a line. Her mother argued repeatedly for the remainer of the day that she must have hydration and they finally allowed her to restart PEG feeding and even to give 15 mls. pedialyte by bottle. Unfortunately, it was too late to hydrate her and her blood had pooled to her vital organs in effort to maintain life, leaving her extremities ice cold and mottled. While attempting cut-downs in effort to start an IV and to place her on ECHHMO, they found her vessels too small to place the line for the heart-lung bypass and was coded for 1 1/2 hours before they pronounced her deceased. Days later the hospital reported that there were no signs of sepsis (life-threatening infection). The local pediatrician had been instructed by the cardiac team that our sweet little girl was not to wait in general population waiting room due to immunosuppressed but he put them in his office to wait and then placed a child with CF in his office with them to wait to be seen. CF patients are almost always carrying infection due to their compromised lungs so that was not an intelligent idea and our sweet little infant quickly went from bad to worse. Throughout the ordeal her diligent mom tried to get all medical personnel to understand she was horribly dehydrated until finally that evening they agreed to give minimal fluids. Of course, we are all absolutely devastated by our loss. She was the only grandchild on both sides of the family. Once home, she was able to have some peace, with her parents staying with her constantly, playing with flash cards which she focused on as though she was memorizing them, as well as watching her parents constantly to memorize their faces. We will always be grateful to God for giving the three of them those two weeks at home, although her health care regimen was very strict. We will always wonder if she should have received the rotovirus vaccine, if the cardiac teams should have listened to her mom about her negative fluid balance and electolyte levels. Hopefully, physicians and surgeons will improve on their information provided by parents in order to have earlier/more aggressive treatment in the future and will save other chldren by doing so. They had been amazed at how well she was dong in the home enviroment and, although muscle strength was less than other infants of that age, she had bypassed many markers of infants months older in intelligence and focus. We’ve lost our darling. Please, please, if you are concerned at all about changes in your child’s status you will not wait and follow instuctions but take them immediately to emergency dept. of hospital specializing in congenital heart conditons and INSIST that they take your observations and concerns seriously.

  16. I was put on ECMO as a baby in Nov of 1994 due to sepsis at Stanford Hospital CA. know without the prayers of my family and friends I wouldn’t be able to be where I am now. The doctors told my parents I’d never be able to play any kind of intense or contacts sports, and would probably have some kind of learning problems. But I just graduated high school last week and had played football for 7 years and was on the varsity wrestling team all 4 years and team captain. I plan on wrestling for a junior college next year then I will probably end up wrestling for Utah Valley University or Southern Virginia. It is always fun to see other people’s success stories with ECMO.

  17. Please think of my great-grandaughter, Addison. She is on ECMO today.
    she has a twin sister just waiting for her to get better, along with a very large family.
    her Mom and Dad, grandparents and us, her great-grandparents. thank you.

  18. Thank you so much for sharing, your stories bring us much needed hope. My nephew has been on ECMO, due to complications from birth. We are all rooting for him, today he is just 18 days old, please remember Baby Ben in your prayers.

  19. My grandbaby is on ECMO right now at MUSC.. She has a full prayer team and is doing great!! God IS GOOD!!!


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