LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — What happens when you combine the will to live with the latest medical technology?
On today’s Wear the Gown, we’re showing how a Marine faced a battle for his life and how an Arkansas hospital was an ally who helped him prevail.
A Facebook post back in September, from a nurse in Alabama, desperate to save her nephew Luke’s life from COVID, was seen by CHI St. Vincent nurse, Jaquelyn Dumas.
“I took a screen shot of it,” Dumas said. “It was pretty late and so I sent it to Dr. Bauer in the morning first thing. He need ECMO but there weren't any ECMO beds available in Alabama.”
But there were in Little Rock. Marine Luke Oliver, 20, was then med-flighted across two states to CHI St. Vincent’s.
“Luke was in rough shape,” Dumas said.
The helicopter brought him to St. Vincent’s door but COVID had brought Luke to death's door.
The next day, standard treatments failed.
“Immediately took him to the operating room and put him on ECMO,” Dumas said.
ECMO is a highly risky, last resort treatment.
“It puts oxygen in the blood and removes carbon dioxide just like our lungs do,” Dumas said. “It gives us the opportunity to save people that we couldn't ten years ago.”
Luke would be on the ECMO machine for 33 days, under nurse Jaquelyn’s watchful eye.
“I've worked every single day he was on ECMO and I was here and I took care of him,” Dumas said.
It was a treacherous road and he came within inches of losing his life, repeatedly.
“You know his heart stopped on us several times,” Dumas said. “It has been an emotional roller coaster. The coronavirus had destroyed parts of his lung so much that air was leaking out of his lung.”
Operations made the repairs but without ECMO, Luke would've died for sure.
“And this was Luke just days before he left St. Vincent’s,” Dumas said.
“Beautiful people,” Oliver said. “This whole hospital is full of angels.”
Luke will continue to convalesce in Alabama with one simple goal in mind:
“I'm gonna sit down in a nice, comfy chair and play with my dog,” Oliver said.
An Alabaman saved by an Arkansas hospital. Compassion has no boundaries.
All total, Luke was at CHI St. Vincent’s for close to four months. His whole family came to Little Rock to celebrate his coming home.