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Cunningham’s recovery deemed remarkable, was ‘almost certain to die’ without ECMO

Dec 20, 2016, 1:42 PM
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)...
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Something happened on the ice in mid-November that makes people forget all about sports: A player had collapsed.

It was Craig Cunningham who went down just before the puck dropped between the Tucson Roadrunners and Manitoba Moose at the Tucson Convention Center.

With no warning and everyone’s minds focused solely on the game, the Roadrunners’ captain simply collapsed and moments later was having CPR performed on him.

According to the Roadrunners, if Cunningham didn’t receive a very specific therapy, he likely wouldn’t be here today.

“Most patients who need ECMO are almost certain to die without this level of support,” the release said.

ECMO stands for Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation, and it is a procedure that circulates blood and acts like an artificial lung. But even with the ECMO treatment, his condition was continuing to worsen.

According to the release, “a new procedure developed by Zain Khalpey, MD, PhD, using a left ventricular assist device, Oxy-LVAD, allowed Cunningham’s heart to recover.”

So it seems Cunningham is going to be OK, and he is well enough now that he is scheduled to speak at a news conference Wednesday at the University of Arizona Cancer Center.

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Cunningham’s recovery deemed remarkable, was ‘almost certain to die’ without ECMO