Mountain Climber Relies on External Breathing Machine When Lungs Fail

Garth Thorpe was a very active young man - big into surfing and scaling mountains in Asia. So when his lungs suddenly began failing after a trip to Bangladesh, he was unprepared for how quickly he would become deathly ill. 

Garth was visiting friends in Bangladesh when, unbeknownst to him, he contracted a lung infection. During his 14-hour flight home to the U.S., he began running a heavy fever with chills. By the time he landed in Baltimore, his health had deteriorated, and his parents could tell he needed immediate medical attention. They rushed him from the airport straight to his local emergency department. Physicians there told his parents that his lungs were collapsing and he needed to be transferred to UMMC to be put on ECMO immediately. ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) is a highly specialized machine that does the work of the lungs through a machine outside of the body. Garth was on ECMO for several days while his lungs healed. As he regained his strength, doctors told him he had barely survived and got to UMMC just in time. He's now fully recovered and is doing what he loves - working with orphan children in their native countries.