A year and a half later, the ECMO team would’ve never thought they would have to save a colleague so dear to them.
UF Health emergency medicine physician Luis Rios Jr., MD, felt odd after work on Dec. 2, 2018. After a few overnight coughing fits, some of it including blood, he eventually felt so weak he wasn’t able to stand.
Luis’ wife, Melanie, came downstairs and saw him lying on the floor inside their home. She called 911.
While en route to the nearest hospital, Luis’ blood pressure plummeted, and his chest turned purple.
He was admitted, and a team tried everything to stabilize him, but nothing worked.
The medical staff was about to give up hope until one team member remembered a presentation on ECMO given by Joseph Shiber, MD, an emergency medicine physician and co-medical director of the ICU at UF Health North.
ECMO was the last effort in saving Luis. They prepared him to fly to UF Health Jacksonville, as he was too weak to make it through an ambulance transport.
Before they took off, Melanie repeatedly whispered to Rios, “I love you; don’t leave me.”
Her words were the only part of the night he remembers.
Once he landed at UF Health Jacksonville and was admitted to the trauma unit, the ECMO team connected him to the lifesaving machine within 18 minutes.