Edgar Ryan ECMO Research Fund

A personal campaign sponsored by Edgar Ryan ECMO Research


Edgar's Story

On August 10th 2015 Edgar, a then 12 year old boy, was digging a tunnel in the sand on Long Beach Island (LBI) New Jersey.  Unfortunately the tunnel collapsed on him.  Bystanders and the Surf City Beach Patrol pulled him from the sand and performed CPR.  Edgar was flown by Helicopter to the Cooper Trauma center where they worked on him for a few hours trying to stabilize him.  As result of the accidents Edgar's lungs were filled with sand and his lungs were not able to perform.  Unfortunately regular respirators were not able to stabilize Edgar and in order to save his life he would need ECMO to take over the function of his lungs.  Fortunately Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia had ECMO available.  Edgar was transferred to CHOP and placed on an ECMO machine.  This ECMO machine saved his life.

ECMO saved Edgar's life and after a 3 month recovery he was able to come home and has had a full recovery with no lasting effects.  Edgar is now in High School and has a normal teenage life.

Edgar was one of the lucky ones.  Unfortunately not every child receiving ECMO is as lucky as Edgar and have a full recovery without lasting side effects, nearly 50% of all children placed on ECMO will not survive.

What is ECMO?

ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) is a procedure that uses a machine to take over the work of the lungs and sometimes the heart for temporary life support of patients with potentially reversible cardiac and/or respiratory failure.  ECMO is used as a last resort when other options have been ruled out.

While ECMO is not a cure for the underlying cause of cardiac or respiratory failure, it does allow time for recuperation and/or response to conventional therapies.  

Why this fund?

The mission of the Edgar Ryan ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) Research Fund is to support the innovation of extracorporeal support for life-threatening illness in children.  Extracoporeal life support refers to the use of ECMO or other techniques to provide oxygenation, ventilation, and circulation of blood for patients with respiratory and/or cardiac failure. Similar to cardiopulmonary bypass during surgical procedures, ECMO can completely support the heart and lungs for days to months providing critically ill children a bridge to heal and overcome critical illness. Without this support they would not survive. 

The use of ECMO is increasing in both adults and children, especially for respiratory failure.  In 2015, nearly 8,000 patients were placed on ECMO according to the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO) registry.  This number continues to grow every year.  Despite the growth in utilization there is still considerable work to be done to improve outcomes for this burgeoning field. Nearly 50% of all patients placed on ECMO will not survive to hospital discharge.

This fund is critical to help translate research and development of technologies and therapeutics to support heart and lung failure while preserving neurologic integrity and outcomes in the most critically ill children.  This will be accomplished by supporting the extracorporeal life support laboratory and clinical research mission of the ECMO Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Our team is composed of international leaders in life-support models development and continue to redefine clinical indications and pathways for extracorporeal life support.  

Learn more about Edgar's story or the ECMO Research by clicking on the links.

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