Dr. Bauer Uses ECMO Therapy to Save Mother

Wendy Chapman, a mother of two from Lonoke, is not one for the spotlight, but she reluctantly agreed to tell her story in the hopes of saving lives. The day after going to another ER for the flu, she went to the Infirmary ED, “because I was screaming with my back hurting, my eyes rolling in the back of my head,” Chapman said.

Her medical state changed so fast that her life was in danger, according to Dr. Thurston Bauer, a cardiothoracic surgeon at CHI St. Vincent. Dr. Bauer said the progression of the problem in her lungs was incredibly fast.

Dr. Bauer was brought in because the ER doctors were fighting a losing battle with what they thought was the flu. She was immediately hooked up to an ECMO machine, which “more or less takes over the work of the patient’s lungs,” said Dr. Bauer.

With an ECMO machine, tubes are inserted into the patient, and the blood leaves the body, circulating through the machine and back into the patient at seven liters per minute.

The therapy saved Chapman’s life just in time. “I really believe that even 10 minutes longer might have been too long,” Dr. Bauer said.

Chapman knows that she owes her life to the ECMO machine. “If it wasn’t for that machine, I probably wouldn’t be here,” she said.

Click below to watch the video and hear Chapman’s story.