Stories About


James Perkinson of Greenbrier, Tenn., underwent ECMO for nearly two months while he was sedated. He says without the "miracle" therapy, he "wouldn't be here right now." Kacie Perkinson hide caption

toggle caption
Kacie Perkinson

Hospitals around the U.S., including large academic medical centers like Vanderbilt University's in Nashville, Tenn., have been forced to rely on traveling nurses to keep their intensive care units fully staffed. The demand for travel nurses has driven up their hourly rates, which then motivates more staff nurses to leave in pursuit of a traveling gig. Blake Farmer/WPLN hide caption

toggle caption
Blake Farmer/WPLN

ECMO is the highest level of life support — beyond a ventilator, which pumps oxygen via a tube through the windpipe into the lungs. Instead, the ECMO process basically functions as a heart and lungs outside of the body — routing the blood via tubing to a machine that oxygenates it, then pumps it back into the patient. Blake Farmer/Nashville Public Radio hide caption

toggle caption
Blake Farmer/Nashville Public Radio

Across The COVID-Ravaged South, High-Level Life Support Is Difficult To Find

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The lungs of a young woman in her 20s became so damaged by COVID-19 that she could not survive without her blood being oxygenated outside her body on an ECMO machine. She received a double-lung transplant on June 5. In this photo taken before the transplant, the patient is being monitored by the ECMO team at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Northwestern Medicine hide caption

toggle caption
Northwestern Medicine