Harefield Hospital and Thames Valley Air Ambulance are working together to save more lives by offering out-of-hospital patients who have had a cardiac arrest an advanced form of resuscitation.

The hospital already offers E-CPR, which involves pumping blood through an artificial lung machine, for some inpatients.

Thames Valley Air Ambulance crews will now also identify out-of-hospital patients who could use the service, in what it believes is a UK first.

E-CPR is a resuscitation method which sees a patient connected to a machine that pumps blood through an artificial lung outside the body when their own circulatory system is unable to function properly.

The service involves a patient receiving cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) while hooked up to the machine, also known as an ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation).

According to a story on the BBC News website, Dr Waqas Akhtar, registrar in cardiology and intensive care at Harefield Hospital and one of the developers of the service, said: “Delivering effective CPR, whether in hospital by medical professionals, or in the community by members of the public, is important to treat patients with cardiac arrests, however, survival rates tend to be low.

“An ECMO machine takes over the function of a patient’s heart and lungs by taking deoxygenated blood out of the patient and inserting oxygenated blood back into them.

“This new service, combining CPR with placing patients on ECMO, has the potential to save more lives than we are able to do with CPR alone.”

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