ECMO machine saved life of 34-year-old cyclist

Health experts encourage everyone to not delay care

OVIEDO, Fla – A day at work turned into a trip to the hospital that left a 34-year-old cyclist in a medically induced coma.

“I remember getting to the ER and, after that, I passed out and I kind of woke up 21 days later,” Christopher Cooper said.

Until then, Cooper spent most of his free time cycling in Central Florida and had only been to the hospital once for some stitches.

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“I’m a cyclist. At that point, I was riding 120-150 miles a week,” Cooper said.

His day started like any other until, without warning, Cooper passed out at work. He said something similar had happened a few days before while he was attending a charity event.

“I wish I would’ve gone to the ER that day, knowing what I know now,” Cooper said.

But this time was different, according to Flight Respiratory Specialist John Inkrott.

“Chris had 13 occasions, I believe, where his heart stopped before we got there,” Inkrott said.

Inkrott said Cooper was suffering from a pulmonary embolism, which is a blood clot.

Inkrott and his team rushed Cooper to AdventHealth Orlando where he “coded” and was saved by an ECMO machine.

“ECMO is Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, and what that means is it’s basically blood taken out of the body, it’s oxygenated, the carbon dioxide is taken off, it’s put back in the body,” Inkrott explained.

The machine was a lifesaver for Cooper, and many others during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“ECMO still has its place in this pandemic and it’s making a difference,” Inkrott said.

The two men who met in 2019, pre-pandemic, said the message now is clear.

“The message that we are getting here that Chris just mentioned is to not delay care,” Inkrott said.

“There’s definitely some incredible people in the health care world that are putting in work right now doing everything they can to save people’s lives and I definitely appreciate every one of them,” Cooper said.

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