Hamilton Medical Center’s Medical Intensive Care Unit is using a new alternative therapy to help severely ill COVID-19 patients.
The Hemolung Respiratory Assist System, or Hemolung RAS, is designed to remove excess carbon dioxide from the bloodstream to support the lungs. The Hemolung RAS works just like a kidney dialysis machine except it removes carbon dioxide waste molecules to support the lungs instead of the kidneys.
“The Hemolung is providing some hope for severely sick COVID patients,” said Noah Jentzen, MD, Medical Director of Critical Care. “The Hemolung is designed to help prevent ventilator-induced lung injury and to promote lung recovery.”
Treatment generally lasts between 2 to 7 days, but in severe cases, possibly longer. Patients suffering from acute respiratory failure (often seen in severe cases of COVID-19) often require intubation and mechanical ventilation as a life-saving measure. Hemolung may be a recommended alternative or supplement to mechanical ventilation.
With help from the Hemolung RAS, physicians are able to reduce mechanical ventilation settings, which may be less traumatic to the lungs, while maintaining safe levels of carbon dioxide in the blood. The Hemolung RAS therapy may decrease the amount of time on mechanical ventilation. It facilitates ultra- protective ventilation with a goal of reducing ventilator-induced lung injury and expediting lung recovery.
The Hemolung RAS is the first fully integrated respiratory dialysis system. It provides simple, effective and minimally invasive carbon dioxide removal. The Hemolung RAS has been authorized for emergency use by the FDA through its Emergency Use Authorization authority.