The Introduction to ECMO
When I walked into Lauren's room on Tuesday 10th December 2019 everything changed.
It was clear that Lauren had deteriorated in the night. One of Lauren's main consultants was in the room. He explained that he hadn't rung us as although she was struggling more, she had been stabilised. Our phone numbers & the numbers for the Mac House Room were pinned up in her room in case of emergency, so the fact that they hadn't felt the need to ring them gave me a sense of relief.
The consultant told me that he needed to update me on her condition and then, mindful that I was on my own, uttered the words I thought they only used on the TV, " you may want to sit down".
I duly sat whilst the consultant explained the next course of action. He told me that the level of life saving equipment currently being used on Lauren was no longer sufficient. Her body was not getting enough oxygen and they needed to give her further help to allow her body time to fight off the infections. At this point we knew she had Influenza A, and the doctors were working on the theory that there was also a bacterial infection, possibly Staphylococcus.
The next process was to put Lauren on an ECMO machine. ECMO stands for Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation. The ECMO machine is similar to the heart-lung bypass machine used for open heart surgery. Basically they wanted to take Lauren's blood out of her body, re-oxygenate it in a machine, and then put it back in.
It was a lot to take in. But I just saw it as another stepping stone on the way to Lauren's recovery.
The original plan had been for me to go & see Lauren first thing and then to meet my husband and our other 2 children for breakfast. Then we would all take turns at seeing Lauren throughout the day. (2 to a bed only in intensive care)
I went to meet them to explain all our plans had been well & truly ruined.