Thursday, August 20, 2009

Experimental lung device kept British soldier alive

The herculean efforts by a massive team of Americans, saving a wounded British soldier, was all over the internet yesterday. The soldier was not named. Today comes this story of a British soldier, who is also not named:

Experimental lung device kept wounded British soldier alive

Photo courtesy of Landstuhl Regional Medical Center
The Novalung works by filtering carbon dioxide out of a patient's blood and infusing oxygen into the blood.

Ben Bloker / S&S
Army Maj. (Dr.) Eric Osborn, the pulmonary critical team leader, recalls a recent mission to treat a British soldier wounded in Afghanistan as team member Air Force Maj. Shannon Womble, assistant head nurse of ICU, looks on Monday at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

LANDSTUHL, Germany — A team of doctors and nurses from Landstuhl Regional Medical Center used a revolutionary device during a recent medevac mission to save the life of a British soldier wounded in Afghanistan.

The 19-year-old soldier, whose name was not released, lost his right lung and suffered a damaged liver when he was shot July 25 near Camp Bastion, a British base in Helmand province. Within hours of getting the call, the LRMC Lung Rescue Team was bound for Afghanistan.

It took more than 200 pints of blood — and the use of a German-made device called the Novalung — to keep the soldier alive.

The Novalung works like a temporary lung by filtering out carbon dioxide from a patient’s blood and oxygenating it. To use the device, a physician reroutes blood flow from a patient’s major vessels through the box by tapping the femoral artery and vein in the upper thighs. As blood flows from one leg into the box, it passes through a filter that leeches off the carbon dioxide and infuses the cells with oxygen, mimicking the trade-off that should take place in the lungs. The blood then goes back into the system through the other leg, refreshed.

Last month’s flight was the first time the Novalung was used while transporting a patient.

“Up until now, it’s never been used to move a patient,” said Air Force Dr. (Lt. Col.) Raymond Fang, LRMC’s trauma director.

“He probably would have died [without the Novalung],” said Army Dr. (Maj.) Erik Osborn, the pulmonary critical team leader for the 38-hour mission....

As my eagle-eyed reader, Carla said(thanks, Carla!), this sounds as if it could be the same British soldier. We may never know. Be that as it may, just more evidence that when one of our coalition soldiers needs help, every effort is made, no matter what flag the participants serve under.

Read the rest here at Stars and Stripes.

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