An extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine pumps and oxygenates a patient’s blood outside the body. It takes over the functions of the heart and lungs, allowing those organs to rest and recover. ECMOs are often used to aid patients awaiting open-heart surgery or a lung transplant. ECMOs are now being used to support late-stage coronavirus patients suffering from reduced respiratory function and organ failure.
An ECMO does not fix a patient’s underlying medical problem. It…

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