Family Struggles To Get Loved One Battling COVID-19 On ECMO, With No Luck

Friday, October 8th 2021, 5:19 pm
By: Erica Rankin

A metro family has been fighting for their brother, son and husband on the outside of a hospital room while he is on a ventilator fighting for his life against COVID-19.

There is one treatment that could help him beat the virus, but he was not picked to be moved to the ECMO unit.

"I am praying that God will bring him up," said Charlotte MaGuire, Tyler Pertree's mom.

Pertree was admitted on September 4 with COVID-19 to Norman Regional Hospital. In a matter of days, he was moved to the ICU.

"They were so kind, and they let two of us sit on the outside in the hall close to the glass door. He couldn't hear us, but he could see us," said MaGuire.

But things took a turn for the worse. The doctors gave Pertree two options. Do not resuscitate or to go on a ventilator, which they told him he may never come off of.

"For a mom, it is excruciating," said MaGuire. "Not just for the possibility that our last conversation. More than that, that he had to make that decision knowing that."

His sister agreed.

"It is tough," said Courtney Fisher, Pertree's sister. "Until you walk this road, you do not get it."

On Pertree's second day on the ventilator, his family fought to have his doctors work to get him on a list for ECMO, an intensive treatment for COVID patients.

"When we called to put him on the list, he was number 40," Fisher said.

ECMO has shown promising results to help heal a COVID-19 patient's lungs, but the problem is beds are limited and so are transport teams.

"Baptist is the only hospital in the metro that has a transport team," said Fisher. "That team, to our knowledge, is one doctor and four nurses that are certified in ECMO."

To be on the list Pertree had to meet criteria, which he did, but only for about a week.

"If you go on the vent at the right time, then you're going to get ECMO if a machine opens up," said Fisher. "If you have been on the vent seven days or less, you have a better chance of survival so those are the ones they take."

Pertree has now been on a ventilator more than two weeks, meaning his window of opportunity for ECMO is likely over.

The family said anyone else is going through a similar situation should fight for your family and fight for treatments.

 "The doctors say the reason Tyler is doing so well because Tyler has something they can't give," said MaGuire. "The will to live and he is fighting, and they say you can see that."

Integris Baptist Medical Center sent News 9 this statement on their ECMO procedures:

"In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, guidelines have been developed using best medical evidence for successful and responsible use of ECMO. INTEGRIS Health follows these guidelines in collaboration with other ECMO programs in this region. As frontline health care providers we remain committed to provide the best possible, most advanced care, for as many patients as possible and we are deeply saddened when the burden of COVID exceeds our capacity to provide healing for those whom we are here to serve."

The family asks others to keep them in their thoughts and prayers. They are leaning hard into their faith and believe Pertree will pull through.