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Family of man in hospital with COVID on mission to find him ECMO machine

Kylie Dean said her 40-year-old father was healthy and didn't have any underlying health conditions before he contracted COVID. Now he's on a ventilator.

The family of a 40-year-old man who is currently intubated in the hospital with COVID-19 said he was healthy before getting the virus, and said he doesn't have any underlying health conditions. 

Shane O'Neal's family says they're on a mission to find him an ECMO machine, a life support machine that replaces the heart and lung's functions. 

O'Neal's daughter, Kylie Dean, said her father tested positive for COVID in early August and went to the hospital a week later.

“To know him is simply to love him," Dean explained. "He's a people person. He was born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. He's just a good, home-grown man. He would do anything for anybody."

She said her dad planned to get the vaccine the week he got sick. 

"After they intubated him, my first thing was, I don't want my dad to die alone," Dean recalled.

She said not long after nurses intubated her dad, they called Dean about an ECMO. 

"They called back and they're like, 'He would be a great candidate for ECMO. He's young, co-morbidities, you know, ECMO could give him a fighting chance.' So with that being said, I was like, 'How do we get ECMO?'" she said.

Dean said she has made calls around the country, along with her dad's team at Baptist for the machine with no luck. Baptist and other area hospitals don't have any machines available. 

"I'm staying strong for my family, for my brother, and for my dad," she said. "I'm on a mission to find an ECMO bed. That's the only thing that I can do to help my dad."

Baptist Health said the following in a statement.

Throughout the country and in our area, a very limited number of hospitals have ECMO machines. If an adult patient requires ECMO, Baptist Health will transfer the patient to the closest accepting hospital, provided they have capacity and feel the patient would be a good candidate for the treatment. If a local hospital does not accept the patient for treatment, we continue to search other hospitals outside the state of Florida.

"Our hearts are with the patients and families fighting COVID-19, and we are working diligently day and night to provide excellent care and save lives."

Baptist couldn't comment on specifics regarding O'Neal due to patient privacy laws.

“It's heartbreaking. I mean, I've always felt for my patients and for my family members. Now, it's just more on a personal level," Dean said.

Dean is an ICU nurse at a nearby hospital. She said she has seen what the virus can do to people, and doesn't want that same fate for her father. 

“This is very real," she said. "This is very scary. It affects even affects everybody's life."

Dean is also pregnant and due next week. She said her father is looking forward to meeting his first grandchild.

"He has made sure to mention to every single nurse that took care of him before his intubation, and he said, 'My daughter's 37 weeks pregnant. My daughter's 38 weeks pregnant. I'm gonna have my first grandbaby.' He wanted everybody to know," Dean said. 

Dean said she wants everyone to know this virus can affect anyone, no matter their health status.