Ma­chine keeps rhythm

De­vice a life­saver for surfer

Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin - - NEWS - NI­CHOLAS MCELROY ni­

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.

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