Wesley Fenton ran ultramarathons for years, until one day when he felt a cold, icy feeling across his chest. Wes was airlifted to The Christ Hospital where doctors discovered he had a severe blockage in an artery called the widowmaker. This caused what is referred to as "cardiogenic shock," a condition where blood pressure falls, heart rate increases drastically and lungs can fail.
"At that point, the heart’s pumping function is removed, and the patient becomes very sick, very quickly,” said Dr. Tim Smith. “One of the ways you can support that for 24 hours, 48 hours, up to a couple of weeks, is with extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO."
ECMO circulates blood flow and supports the body when the heart can't. The Christ Hospital has one of the few ECMO programs in the country, and, in Wes’ case, it saved his life. Recently, Wes had the chance to visit Dr. Smith and thank him for his life-saving intervention. He says he now wakes up every morning thankful for another day.