Welcome to our CaringBridge website. We are using it to keep family and friends updated in one place. We appreciate your support and words of hope and encouragement. Thank you for visiting this site. About 2 weeks ago, Liisa was at her farm and at night was having severe difficulty breathing. She called upon her trusted neighbor, Carl Williamson, who brought her to the St Croix Regional Medical Center ER where she was thought to be suffering from an asthma attack. She was admitted for standard treatment but over the next several days her condition worsened. She required oxygen face-mask and then pressurized oxygen face mask (bipap) to try to keep her oxygenation up. Despite intense treatment, her condition was worsening and the physicians at St Croix Regional Medical Center prudently transferred her by ambulance to Abbott Northwestern Hospital ICU in the early morning hours of February 18th. There, her respiratory condition continued to worsen to such an extent that facemask was no longer adequate. By Monday she had required intubation and placement on a ventilator to maintain oxygen saturation. However, even with intubation her oxygen saturation continued to fall. By Tuesday, to save her life, the only option available was venous–venous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation or vvECMO. This device is truly amazing. It is basically an artificial lung. It takes blood from her inferior vena cava, passes it through oxygenating membrane , and then returns the blood into the right atrium, (the right side of the heart). Tests showed that Liisa had a very severe form of Influenza A infection which was causing her respiratory failure.
Using the ECMO, Liisa's oxygenation levels have been brought up to life sustaining levels,while her lungs, presently incapacitated by Influenza A infection, can recover sufficiently to allow her to breath once again.
With the intubation and ECMO and the severity of her medical condition, Liisa has required deep sedation and is largely unconscious/asleep to facilitate her recovery and to maintain her comfort. On Tuesday February 26th, because the intubation breathing tube had been in place as long as it could safely be there, a tracheostomy was surgically placed in her neck in place of the intubation. Liisa will be on the ventilator using the tracheostomy even while remaining on ECMO. The medical staff will be trying to slowly transition her from ECMO to oxygenating with her lungs. I have been told that the recovery process varies with each individual and can take several weeks. As you can imagine, we are all hoping that her lungs heal as soon as possible.
As of yesterday, February 27th, the chest x-ray was showing just a little improvement giving us hope of movement in the right direction.