Israel’s MDA brought man back to life after dying twice using new tech

Science and Health

After a man went into cardiac arrest in Bnei Brak on Thursday, MDA paramedics restarted his heart. When it subsequently stopped again, they restarted it again, according to an MDA press release.

The man was successfully revived a second time in large part due new equipment in an MDA ambulance.

On Sunday, the MDA announced that a 45-year-old man had collapsed during the previous week after suffering a cardiac arrest in a Bnei Brak art gallery. 

“He lived to tell the tale thanks to a joint lifesaving initiative by Magen David Adom and Shamir Medical Center that put a heart-lung bypass machine on an ambulance,” the MDA release stated.

In less than two minutes following the man’s cardiac arrest and collapse, the civilian bystander who called emergency services to the scene, with the guidance of the MDA dispatcher, was performing CPR on the man. About a minute later, MDA personnel arrived.

The ECMO Unit medical team from Magen David Adom and Shamir Medical Center. (credit: AMERICAN FRIENDS OF MAGEN DAVID ADOM)

The first responders immediately used a defibrillator to administer cardiac shocks, which succeeded in restarting the patient’s heart. The success, however, was short-lived.

Although within five minutes of the man’s initial collapse an MDA mobile intensive care unit (MICU), had arrived, upon transferring the patient to the ambulance, his heart once again stopped beating.

Fortunately, a second MDA ambulance, this one equipped with an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) unit, had already been on the way. The paramedic team, therefore, was empowered to make the decision to transfer the patient from the initial ambulance to the one with the ECMO unit.

The ECMO unit is designed to fully oxygenate the brain and other organs, thus significantly increasing the likelihood of arriving at the hospital with the patient still alive.

 A ceramics store near the scene allowed MDA personnel the space required to hook the man to the ECMO machine, which, serving as the patient’s heart and lungs, kept his body oxygenated while he was transferred into the ECMO ambulance.

He was then rushed to the  Shamir Medical Center’s catheter lab at Shamir Medical Center, where healthcare professionals were able to perform an angioplasty to unblock the artery responsible for the cardiac arrest.

The man regained consciousness the following day. The MDA reports he looked very well considering the circumstances, and he was even able to record a video where he thanked the MDA for saving his life.

“I remember going to work and then waking up in the hospital and I didn’t understand what I was doing there,” the man said. “I was told I was actually already in the next world, and thanks to the angels of MDA who arrived very quickly and, in combination with the ECMO ambulance and the Shamir Asaf Harofeh Hospital team, I was rescued in the field and my life was saved.”

The ECMO unit used in saving the patient’s life is the only one on an ambulance in the entirety of Israel. In fact, very few countries have ambulances equipped with the unit. 

Aside from Israel, only the United States, Britain, France, Australia, and the Netherlands use ECMO technology outside of the hospital.

Even in Israel, the technology used in this case is extremely new. The ECMO unit, equipped with a heart-lung bypass machine, was launched mere months previously by the MDA and Shamir Medical Center.

Magen David Adom (MDA) are seen responding to an emergency in Haifa, on June 12, 2022. (credit: MDA SPOKESPERSON)

Having an ambulance equipped with an ECMO unit “buys the paramedic time,” said senior paramedic and head of MDA’s paramedic training, Dr. Shafir Botner. Dr. Botner continued, adding that the technology enables paramedics “to work smartly and without the sense that time is ticking away, because you know you don’t have to worry about the patient’s brain and other organs being deprived of oxygen.”

Lowering patient mortality

This technology has the power to significantly improve patient outcomes. Indeed, the MDA notes that it “could make survival rates for cardiac events appreciably higher.”

This would raise cardiac arrest survivability which, currently, is very low.  Dr. Gal Pachys, director of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Shamir Medical Center. Noted that “the rate of survival for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is persistently low and remains below 5% in Israel.”

MDA is looking to change that. Gil Moscowitz, MDA’s deputy director-general for operations, celebrated the ECMO innovation and looks towards implementing more life-saving changes to MDA vehicles.

“Magen David Adom is looking at designing an even more advanced vehicle that can perform even more complex procedures outside hospital walls to save even more lives,” Moscowitz said.