Machine keeps rhythm
Device a lifesaver for surfer
CURRUMBIN surfer Skye McLean would be dead if it wasn’t for the genius of Professor Bob Bartlett.
The US doctor invented the machine which took over for Mr McLean’s heart and lungs when he suffered a massive heart attack after a surf in February.
“It was pretty rad to meet him, it’s like meeting a movie star,” the 41-year-old said.
About 50,000 people are alive today because of Professor Bartlett’s extracorporeal membrane oxygenation device (ECMO).
“Words can’t really describe what it was like to meet Professor Bartlett, he was one of the many people who helped save my life,” Mr McLean said.
“To think, in the 1970s this machine was the size of a lounge room. More people should be aware of this.”
The pair met at the Asia Pacific Extracorporeal Life Support Organisation Conference at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre yesterday.
Experts from almost 30 nations met at the conference to discuss new mechanical methods to keep the human body alive.
Opened by the Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Cameron Dick, the conference focused on the development of the ECMO.
Prof Bartlett spoke to more than 400 delegates about the development of the machine, which now costs hospitals about $100,000.
Prof Bartlett said he first took his experimental ECMO out of the lab in 1976 to help a newborn facing certain death because of heart and lung dysfunction.
With nothing to lose Prof Bartlett hooked the baby up to the device. He said the child recovered three days later.
Decades on, Prince Charles Hospital Critical Care Research Group Professor boss John Fraser said it was important to continue developing the technology.
“Just think about the iPhone, these devices could be portable in the future,” Prof Fraser said.
Dr Bob Bartlett, the inventor of the lifesaving ECMO machine, with surfer Skye McLean.