February 16, 2021 — Crystal Gutierrez, a young mother who earlier in 2020 fell seriously ill from the effects of COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) after delivering her son Matthew, reunited Feb. 12 with the doctors and nurses of HCA Houston Healthcare Medical Center and Houston Heart who helped to save her life.
This was the first time the caregivers at HCA Houston Healthcare Medical Center and Houston Heart got to meet now eight-month-old Matthew who was born at sister hospital HCA Houston Healthcare Clear Lake.
Immediately after delivering her son, Crystal was so critically ill from COVID that she was transferred to sister hospital HCA Houston Healthcare Medical Center for intensive extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) treatment. It provides prolonged cardiac and respiratory support to patients whose heart and lungs are unable to provide an adequate amount of gas exchange or perfusion to sustain life.
Crystal Gutierrezfell seriously ill from the effects of COVID-19 after delivering her son Matthew in 2020 and spent 152 days in the hospital, including some of that time of ECMO support. She was reunited Feb. 12, 2021 with the doctors and nurses of HCA Houston Healthcare Medical Center and Houston Heart who helped to save her life.
Under an FDA emergency use authorization in 2020, ECMO was allowed to be used in severely ill COVID patients who needed both restore and circulatory support. When ventilators are not enough, ECMO can be used in place of the lungs to oxygenate the blood. ECMO also helps unload the work of the heart, which often has compromised function due to COVID-19 infection. Severely ill COVID patients can go into multi-organ failure, and ECMO can help increase profusion into failing organs or even the heart to keep the patient's body going until it can recover.
Keshava Rajagopal, M.D., Ph.D., is the Houston Heart physician who administered Crystal's ECMO treatment, which reversed her profound respiratory failure, the hospital said.
Cardiovascular surgeon Keshava Rajagopal, M.D., Ph.D., is credited with saving COVID patient Crystal Gutierrez because of implementing ECMO support to reversed her profound respiratory failure. Pictured here with her family at Houston Heart.
Staff that helped support and save COVID-19 patient Crystal Gutierrez during a reunion at HCA Houston Healthcare Medical Center and Houston Heart.
Related ECMO Use in COVID-19 Content:
VIDEO: ECMO Support Effective in Sickest COVID-19 Patients — Interview with Ryan Barbaro, M.D.
VIDEO: Multiple Cardiovascular Presentations of COVID-19 in New York — Interview with Justin Fried, M.D., explaining a case that used VV-ECMO abnd VAV-ECMO