ECMO Heroes


“I was at a barbeque when I got the call to mobilize our extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) team,” says Dr. Peyman Benharash, pictured left, director of the adult ECMO program at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. The patient, Matt Pohlson, pictured center, had just suffered stress-induced cardiomyopathy, or heart failure, at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica and the surgical team called for the ECMO machine, which functions as a patient’s heart. Dr. Vadim Gudzenko, pictured right, medical director of the adult ECMO program adds, “It’s a very complex and invasive procedure, and it is only applied to the sickest of the sick.” Dr. Benharash continues, “This machine is a patient’s only hope, and it was the surgical team of Dr. Michael Yeh and Dr. Greg Stacks, my fellow, who called for it. We were all working together to stabilize Matt. We transferred him to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and within 48 hours we had ultrasounds of his heart showing he had recovered significantly, and we were able to take him off the machine.”