Former ACHA player, now at Miami Valley Hospital, saves critically ill COVID-19 patients using ECMO therapy

From Dayton 247 Now

By Allison Walker


DAYTON, Ohio (WKEF) — Life support technology called extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is being studied worldwide about how it can save COVID-19 patients on the brink of death.

ECMO was originally developed in the 1960s for babies with respiratory syndromes, but has since been utilized to support adults during heart and lung transplant surgeries.

Miami Valley Hospital is the first facility in Dayton to provide the therapy for adults and it’s already saving lives.

On July 22nd, 31-year-old West Milton resident, Shayna Stanley tested positive for COVID-19, the next day she could barely breathe.

“I remember getting on the ambulance and then after that, I woke up like two months later in the hospital,” Stanley said.

Little did Stanley know Miami Valley Hospital developed a specialized ECMO program that would save her life.

Dr. Vincent Nardy, former ACHA player at Penn State and now a surgeon with Cardiothoracic Surgery Associates, said Miami Valley Hospital has 5 ECMO machines, that allow critically ill patients to receive treatment close-to-home.

“It takes a lot of manpower, it takes a lot of training, and it takes a lot of effort, frankly, to provide a service like this and a program. Not that other hospitals in the region couldn’t necessarily do it. It’s just something that we prioritize and I think it’s it’s something that we care a lot about,” Nardy explained.

Nardy added that ECMO takes a patient’s blood and puts it through a machine that heats, oxygenates, and blends it. The technology serves as the lungs by taking out the blood’s carbon dioxide and putting it back into the body, which allows patients’ organs to focus on healing.

Nardy added ECMO doesn’t cure COVID-19 but instead gives those with an 80- 90% risk of dying, a 50- 60% percent chance to live. Yet, Nardy explained determining who to take that chance on is an excruciating decision.

“If we chose somebody inappropriately, we might miss an opportunity to save somebody else because we don’t have the resources now with covid. But Shayna was really really sick. She had a lot of youth and vigor that works in her favor,” Nardy stated.

Stanley was on ECMO for about two months, making little progress. Nardy was about to tell Stanley’s family she may not survive when a miracle occurred.

“Things immediately started getting better. And it wasn’t very long after, that we were taking her off of ECMO. It’s why we became doctors, nurses, healthcare providers, to offer that slim chance of hope in all the darkness and ultimately save somebody’s life,” Nardy explained.

“It really like, let you know like, hey, no, you don’t always have tomorrow. Like, do what you want to do. Say what you need to say because you might not get the chance,” Stanley added.

Stanley was released from the hospital in November and has a long road to recovery. She’s undergoing therapy to help regain her speech and lung capacity. Yet, Stanley wants to thank the healthcare heroes like Nardy, who gave her the opportunity to keep fighting.

“I love them so much. They were the greatest people. They took such good care of me. I know they’ve gone through a lot taking care of people, losing patients. What they are doing is amazing work,” Stanley said.

Stanley was unvaccinated when she was hospitalized for COVID-19 and now urges the community to get vaccinated and take the appropriate health precautions like wearing masks.

(Originally published at