WVU Heart and Vascular surgeon is lead author in recommendations on treatment of COVID patients

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The WVU Heart and Vascular Institute’s recommendations for the use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) in COVID patients were recently published in the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery. The Institute has seen the highest survival rate of ECMO patients with COVID in the nation and has had great success with the survival of pregnant patients.

J.W. Awori Hayanga, M.D., M.P.H.
J.W. Awori Hayanga, M.D., M.P.H.

“We have been rigorous in trying to identify how to keep patients alive,” J.W. Awori Hayanga, M.D., M.P.H., WVU Heart and Vascular Institute thoracic surgeon and ECMO program director, said. “We challenged some of the old criteria of waiting seven days with the patient on mechanical ventilation and other adjunct strategies before deciding to initiate ECMO. We quickly realized by what we saw in Italy and New York that waiting seven days was too long. We cut that down to three days, dropped the age criteria, and saw significantly better outcomes.”

The Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, the official journal of the American Association of Thoracic Surgery, is considered the most prestigious journal for thoracic and cardiovascular surgeons. Members must be elected and pride themselves as being the final arbiters in matters of surgical thoracic practice. Dr. Hayanga was lead author on the invited expert opinion, which included input from five authors from other top institutions in the country, including Johns Hopkins, Yale, and the University of Michigan.

Hayanga attributes the success at WVU Medicine hospitals to teamwork between the team at the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute and WVU Medicine member hospitals.

“We're seeing how the stakeholder alliance really holds up,” Hayanga said. “We give a lot of gratitude to our satellite centers. They have been responsive and routinely kept open communication. Whenever someone asks if we have someone in the wings for ECMO, I remind them that we always do because we are in constant communication with our hub-and-spoke team, and together, as a team, we have had remarkable success.”

The article, Venovenous extracorporeal membrane oxygenation in patients with COVID-19 respiratory failure, was published in The Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery Oct.12, 2021.

For more information on the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute, visit WVUMedicine.org/Heart