More than two years ago, the promising life of a young woman nearly ended. Despite the assistance of a ventilator, her breathing became increasingly more difficult. Dr. Lepler prescribed an advanced procedure called Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO), a type of cardiopulmonary bypass that allows oxygen to reach the bloodstream directly, that provided the best opportunity to save the young patient. Only one problem, at the time, nearly two years ago, Inova did not have an ECMO program.
Acting quickly and heroically, Dr. Lepler arranged for two surgeons from Richmond, the nearest available ECMO program, to be flown by helicopter to Inova Fair Oaks Hospital. The two surgeons started the ECMO procedure in the hospital’s intensive care unit. Once stabilized, Dr. Lepler coordinated a specially equipped ambulance to transport the patient to Richmond. The patient’s life was saved — and by the way, Dr. Lepler did all of this on what was supposed to be his “day off.” Now, thanks to Dr. Lepler, Inova has its own ECMO program, which resides at Inova Children’s Hospital, and has already saved the lives of several infants, children, teens and adults.