Last-resort therapy saving lives during flu epidemic

Physicians at the University of Alabama at Birmingham are employing a technology known as ECMO as a last-resort therapy for extremely severe cases of influenza. ECMO, short for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, is a sort of portable heart/lung bypass machine. “These are very sick patients for whom traditional therapy such as a ventilator is simply not sufficient,” says Enrique Diaz, MD, associate professor in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine and head of the UAB ECMO program.