- Published: 01 January 2013
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The aeromedical evacuation of a U.S. Marine, March 26, who suffered complications from pneumonia marked the first ever extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, transfer performed with an adult in the Western Pacific region. An ECMO provides cardiac and respiratory oxygen support to patients with damaged or diseased heart and lungs that can no longer function for themselves. To complete an ECMO a surgeon inserts tubes into the large blood vessels of the patient. With the help of blood thinners to prevent clotting, the machine will then pump blood through the patient with a membrane oxygenator, removing carbon dioxide and adding oxygen, returning it back into the patient. The Marine was being cared for at the Lester hospital Intesive Care Unit, Camp Lester, Okinawa, for several days before being transferred to Kadena Air Base and then boarding a C17 that would take him to recieve specialized treatment in Hawaii. The medical team transporting the victim was composed of not only Air Force critical care air transportation nurses, but also Army soldiers who are part of theTripler Army Medical Center joint medical attendant transport team. Although the medical team members did not belong to the same branch of service as the patient, they came together to perform what needed to be done to help save his life.
A joint military and civilian medical team evacuated a U.S. Marine via a C-17 Globemaster II from Japan to Hawaii who required urgent cardiac and respiratory care due to severely infected lungs, here March 26. The 12-person Pacific Air Forces medical transport team, comprised of medical personnel from Tripler Army Medical Center, PACAF's Critical Care Air Transport Team Element-East and the Kapiolani Medical Center, provided the patient Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation during the transpacific flight-- medical treatment that provides both cardiac and respiratory support to patients whose heart and lungs are so severely diseased or damaged that they can no longer function. "The patient remains critical but stable on ECMO," said Lt Col. (Dr.) Melissa Tyree, a staff neonatologist and neonatal/pediatric ECMO specialist at Tripler Army Medical Center." "He is responding very well to ECMO support and his lungs are already beginning the slow process of recovery nicely." The U.S. Marine patient was initially MEDEVAC'd from a ship 13 days ago to the United States Naval Hospital Camp Lester, Okinawa, Japan, where he received initial stabilization and was cared for in the Intensive Care Unit. The patient was found to have a severe lung infection (pneumonia) that caused diffuse lung injury and a progressive challenge to exchange oxygen and eliminate carbon dioxide as the patient's heart pumped blood through the lungs necessitating the use of ECMO technology.