New Heart-Lung Bypass Technology

New Heart-Lung Bypass Technology

A few weeks ago, a 45-year-old man in Israel went into cardiac arrest while visiting an art gallery in Bnei Brak and then he died — twice.

But he lived to tell the tale — thanks to a joint lifesaving initiative by MAGEN DAVID ADOM and Shamir Medical Center that put a heart–lung bypass machine on an ambulance.

Key to this man’s survival were two facts — he immediately received CPR from a civilian in the gallery, and EMTs arrived within minutes and ensured that his organs were getting oxygen despite his heart not beating.

Within one minute and 50 seconds of the patient’s collapse, the person who had called MAGEN DAVID ADOM, Israel’s national emergency services system, was performing CPR under the direction of the dispatcher. Within three minutes of the call, MAGEN DAVID ADOM first responders were at the scene administering cardiac shocks from a defibrillator, successfully restarting the man’s heart.

And within five minutes, a MAGEN DAVID ADOM Mobile Intensive Care Unit (MICU) ambulance was at the scene to initiate the patient’s transfer. At the same time, a second ambulance, a special ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) unit equipped with a heart–lung bypass machine recently integrated by MAGEN DAVID ADOM and Shamir Medical Center was racing to the scene.

Shortly after the MICU team initiated the transfer, the patient’s heart stopped a second time — and they made the decision to transfer him to the ECMO ambulance to provide him with a better chance of arriving to the hospital alive and with his brain and organs fully oxygenated.

The MICU ambulance immediately pulled over in front of a ceramics shop, and with the owner’s permission, the MAGEN DAVID ADOM team moved the man into the store where they could use the floor space as a medical staging area. The second ambulance arrived moments later, and the two crews worked together to quickly put the patient on the ECMO machine.

Once the ECMO machine had taken over for the patient’s heart and lungs, he was loaded into the ECMO ambulance and rushed to Shamir Medical Center for emergency angioplasty.

The man regained consciousness the next day, and he recorded a heartfelt video thanking MAGEN DAVID ADOM for saving his life.

“I remember going to work and then waking up in the hospital and I didn’t understand what I was doing there,” said the patient, who asked that his name not be used. “I was told I was actually already in the next world, and thanks to the angels of MAGEN DAVID ADOM who arrived very quickly and, in combination with the ECMO ambulance and the Shamir Asaf Harofeh Hospital team, I was rescued in the field and my life was saved.”

This new ECMO technology is a game changer, according to Dr. Shafir Botner, senior paramedic and head of MAGEN DAVID ADOM’s paramedic training. Now Israel is one of the few countries in the world — along with the United States, Britain, France, Australia, and the Netherlands — using ECMO technology outside a hospital setting.

“It buys the paramedic time, enabling you to work smartly and without the sense that time is ticking away, because you know you don’t have to worry about the patient’s brain and other organs being deprived of oxygen,”  Dr. Botner said.

Innovations like the ECMO ambulance are expected to make survival rates for cardiac events appreciably higher. The ECMO ambulance enables doctors from Shamir Medical Center and paramedics from MAGEN DAVID ADOM to bypass a cardiac arrest patient’s heart and lungs, which provides the medical team with more time to resuscitate them by providing the patient’s organs with crucial oxygen.

Since that incident in Bnei Brak, several other patients also have been saved with the ECMO ambulance — all with good outcomes!

“Magen David Adom is looking at designing an even more advanced vehicle that can perform even more complex procedures outside hospital walls to save even more lives,” said Gil Moscowitz, MAGEN DAVID ADOM’s deputy director-general for operations.