Young Mother is First Oklahoman to Benefit from New INTEGRIS ECMO Life Support Program
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma City Dodgers and INTEGRIS Health proudly begin the 2015 “Home Run for Life” series on Opening Night Thursday, April 9 during the Dodgers’ game against the Round Rock Express at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. The Dodgers and INTEGRIS will recognize Shaquile “Kela” Robinson, a young mother who became the first patient in the state of Oklahoma to undergo a new specialized life support program at INTEGRIS that utilizes extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).
“Home Run For Life” recognizes people in the Oklahoma City area who, with the help of their families, physicians and health care professionals, have overcome a significant medical event. Honorees are recognized during a Dodgers’ game and take a home run “lap” around the bases, symbolizing the end of their battle against adversity.
“We are so pleased to continue the ‘Home Run For Life’ series with our partner INTEGRIS Health,” Dodgers President/General Manager Michael Byrnes said. “Throughout the season, ‘Home Run For Life’ allows us to feature several extraordinary individuals from the local community who summoned a great deal of tenacity and courage to get where they are today.”
Robinson, 21, began experiencing chest pains shortly after the birth of her son in June 2014. Breathing became difficult and she fatigued so easily she was unable to hold her newborn baby.
Doctors soon discovered her heart was working at just 10 percent capacity. Her condition continued to worsen, despite the implantation of a defibrillator. She developed pneumonia and coughed up blood. Her heart and lungs were shutting down and Robinson’s life was in immediate danger.
A newly created specialized life support program at INTEGRIS Health saved the Oklahoma City resident’s life.
INTEGRIS became the first hospital in Oklahoma to establish an ECMO program for adults facing imminent death caused by heart or respiratory failure. Robinson was the first patient to benefit from the INTEGRIS program.
“I had no idea what ECMO was, but I know it saved my life,” Robinson said.
The last-resort lifesaving technique provides both cardiac and respiratory support oxygen to patients whose heart and/or lungs are so severely diseased or damaged they can no longer serve their function, such as after a heart attack, cardio surgery, pulmonary embolism, near drowning or lung-related issues like flu or pneumonia.
ECMO therapy continually pumps blood from the patient via a tube to a membrane oxygenator that imitates the gas exchange process of the lungs, removing carbon dioxide and adding oxygen before returning the blood to the patient.
The therapy aims to allow the heart and lungs to rest and recover while the machine does the work. Once the heart and or lungs have healed, and can function on their own, the support of the ECMO machine is gradually removed.
Doctors told Robinson’s family that if they didn’t try the ECMO therapy, death was the only alternative.
“Given those odds, we chose life,” Robinson’s mom, Kerri Harkey, said.
ECMO technology has traditionally been used to support underdeveloped hearts and lungs in premature babies. Medical adaptations and advancements have led to increased, and extended, adult usage.
Robinson was on the ECMO device for seven days. Once her heart and lungs were strong enough to tolerate the medications she needed to stabilize her condition, she was removed from the therapy. She then received a left ventricular assist device, known as a heart pump.
ECMO saved Robinson’s life, and the new INTEGRIS therapy gave her the chance to move forward with her now 10-month-old son, Thomas.
Come see Shaquile “Kela” Robinson complete her “Home Run For Life,” following the third inning of the OKC Dodgers’ Opening Night game Thursday, April 9 against the Round Rock Express. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
This article originally appeared on the official website of the Oklahoma City Dodgers. Click here to view the original story.