Thursday, August 14, 2008

Zack is no longer using an ECMO machine! He was deemed ready for a trial stopping of the machine yesterday afternoon so his doctor turned off the oxygenation process (ECMO is essentially a lung bypass machine in this case, oxygenating Zack's blood while his lungs rested). He did great --- meaning his lungs are able to oxygenate his blood on their own --- and ECMO was permanently turned off. The surgery to remove the cannulas (tubes) from his veins went perfectly and he is now in a deep sedation. 

The doctors switched his ventilators yesterday too, and he is now hooked up to an oscillator. It's a loud machine but also the most gentle ventilator available. His lungs stay partially expanded while he receives many tiny, rapid breaths...Two of Zack's respiratory therapists, Debbie and Marie, compared the oscillator "breaths" to the gentle wingbeats of a hummingbird. Though the oscillator is gentle, it's an uncomfortable feeling to have your lungs always full of air so Zack will stay sedated until he's weaned off the machine. 

The next step is for Zack's lungs to heal the tiny tears that allowed air to escape...this air caused more than one pnuemothorax (collapsed lung, partially in this case) because the air gets stuck and applies pressure to the outside of the lungs. Zack has three chest tubes on the sides of his chest...tiny needles in his skin attached to bigger tubes outside his body that allow the extra air to escape.  This morning's chest x-ray showed no outside air. 

This transition to an oscillator was always part of the plan after coming off ECMO. Zack was on ECMO for exactly two weeks, which is ideal because apparently it works very well in the beginning but can often be problematic with long term use. The oscillator is LOUD so Zack is wearing earplugs but I'm going to try to find him a pair of big headphones to muffle the noise. 

Zack is on the right track!

A Visit from Zack's Aunt Cristina


Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

Zack, Maria, and Grandma,
That is AWESOME news!!!!! I am so happy to hear Zack is contining to heal. Mocha and Maya will be thrilled to hear their favorite human is well on the way to a full recovery!

Anonymous said...

Dear Zack,
Enjoy your rest. I plan to totally wear you out going to the beach, playing mini-golf, seeing movies, cheering for the Giants, eating whatever you want, seeing movies,hiking and swimmiing on your next trip to California.

Anonymous said...


reba said...

Dear Zack,

I hope you get better soon! I'm glad you are doing better. Miya and I are doing a camp for 6 year olds and Ms. Blaser is making us read so much it's crazy. I am reading the last Harry Potter. I'll see you soon so keep getting better.



Anonymous said...

Hi Zack, Hope you can come for a visit and hope to see you soon. What's the next book you want to read? Love Always, Julia
Hi Zack, Hope to see you soon. I'm glad to hear that your lungs continue to get better. Love Always, Stefani
Zack and Maria, Such great news! Wish we were there to give you a hug. Love, Steve and Kim

Anonymous said...

Hip Hip Hooray!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's all that good clear Pacifica air being sent your way Zack...keep breathing it buddy!!!!! Good job Maria, I was anxiously waiting to hear more from you and I am so glad he's off that machine now the next steps....Maria I hope that you can take a little break for yourself with grandma and Christine there!!! Good thoughts and prayers are with you all God Bless!!!! Love Carol

crllull said...

Hola! It was so amazing to see how wonderful all the nurses, surgeons, doctors, ecmo technicians, etc. are!!! I'm very happy to know such wonderful people are taking care of you Zack!

I love you guys!

Aunt Cristina

Anonymous said...

Hey Zack -- it's Mike! It's Sunday morning and we're just sitting here being lazy. Wanted to let you know you're in our thoughts. Michele Ruby, our friend who also lives in Portland, is visiting us in a couple weeks. So we're just getting ready for that. Can't wait to see you buddy. Take care of yourself and your mom until our next post, okay?

Anonymous said...


I continued to do my zack big breath underwater swim each day I was in Mexico. It's weird, but as I received word that your lungs were doing better, I was able to swim further and further underwater! One of my days, unfortunately, I swam right into some woman. I think she thought I was a some sort of weirdo. Maybe she is right. Glad to hear that you are doing better. see you soon.

Chris (gabe's dad)