Covid Response: Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospital

Helping provide specialist equipment to save more people with severe COVID-19

Pressure on intensive care units has been greater than ever during the COVID-19 crisis, with more specialist equipment needed for patients who are critically ill with the virus.

In 2020, we gave a grant of £100,000 to the Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospitals Charity towards portable ultrasound machines and an ‘extracorporeal membrane oxygenation’ or ECMO machine. ECMO is a treatment that adds oxygen to the blood and pumps it through the body in a similar way to the heart. The process takes place outside the body. This allows a patient’s heart or lungs to rest and gives doctors the crucial time needed to diagnose and treat them.

ECMO is often a “last resort” treatment where all other options have been exhausted. But it offers the best chance of recovery to even the most vulnerable patients with heart or lung failure – including those with severe cases of COVID-19.

  • Our grant of £100,000 to the Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospitals Charity funded an ECMO machine and portable ultrasound machines.
  • The ECMO technique could save up to half of the seriously ill COVID-19 patients for whom ventilation isn’t working, according to the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization.
  • Royal Brompton’s Adult Intensive Care Unit appeared on Channel 4 News on 18 May 2020. They reported on how ECMO is often the last hope for the sickest patients. (see link below)
Part of our grant has also been used for portable, hand-held ultrasound machines, which provide cardiac scans and daily lung ultrasounds on COVID-19 patients. You can read more about the machines and watch a short video here.

Due to the hospitals’ respiratory and critical care expertise, they saw over 200 of the most severe and critical cases during the height of the pandemic, with COVID-19 patients transferred from across London.

Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust is one of only five centres in the UK that can offer ECMO. The Trust is the largest specialist heart and lung centre in the UK and its hospitals carry out some of the most complicated heart and lung procedures in the world.

You can watch a Channel 4 news report on ECMO machines at Royal Brompton’s Adult Care Unit here. (opens an external site in a new window)

“Thank you so much for your support. It is greatly appreciated, it will save more lives.
Stephane Ledot, Consultant in Critical Care and Anaesthetics, Royal Brompton Hospital

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