Miracle Machine Makes Heroic Rescues–And Leaves Patients in Limbo

June 19, 2019

(Kaiser Health News) – Experts caution that as ECMO becomes more available, it is also being used as a last-ditch attempt to buy more time for dying patients with poor chances of survival. ECMO is not designed to be a destination, but a bridge to somewhere — recovery, transplantation or an implanted heart device. But when patients are too sick to reach those goals, ECMO can become a “bridge to nowhere,” leaving the patient in limbo, possibly even awake and alert, but with no chance of survival outside the intensive care unit. Medical teams and families can be fiercely divided over when to pull the plug.

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