Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center is the only hospital in our state that has a newly-approved tool to treat patients who are fighting COVID-19.
The gadget is called the Hemolung machine, and a doctor who is in the hospital’s intensive care unit is the first coronavirus patient there to be hooked up to it.
Dr. Vladimir Laroche has been on a ventilator for 21 days after arriving at Gardens Medical Center on April 1. It was doing all of his breathing for him until doctors there received quick approval from the Food and Drug Administration to use the Hemolung machine.
The machine functions like a dialysis machine but for the lungs. It removes carbon dioxide from the blood and replaces it with oxygen. The Hemolung was originally developed to treat people with COPD. However, the FDA has issued emergency authorization to use it to treat lung failure caused by the novel coronavirus.
— FDA Health News (@FDAHealthNews) April 24, 2020
“As soon as he went on the machine, things started turning around. His CO2 levels remained between 34 and 40, where they were in the 60s and 70s before. Normal is about 35-40 and so it made a huge difference,” says Dr. Leslie Diaz an infectious disease specialist. In addition, Dr. Laroche, who practices at FoundCare in Palm Beach County, was able to again start breathing on his own.
His brother, Paul Laroche, believes he contracted COVID-19 while seeing patients.
Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center has two of the Hemolung machines. Officials there hope the devices will continue to be helpful in treating other patients battling the virus.