Fernando Nino is fighting for his life as his family desperately searches for a lifesaving machine that’s increasingly rare as the pandemic drags on.
The police officer from Palestine, Texas, tested positive for the coronavirus in late August after feeling minor symptoms, including a cough and itchy throat, the Tyler Morning Telegraph reported. Though over-the-counter medicines helped temporarily, Nino’s condition worsened and a week later doctors put him on an oxygen machine to use at home, the newspaper reported.
A day later, he was forced to return to the hospital and admitted to the intensive-care unit on Sept. 7, the Tyler Morning Telegraph reported.
Nino had a hole in his right lung and a clot in his left, KLTV reported, and he’s been on a ventilator at a hospital in Tyler, Texas. The police department hasn’t said whether Nino was vaccinated.
“He’s up there in Tyler right now fighting for his life,” Palestine Cpl. Joe Tinsley said at a prayer vigil Thursday. “I can’t wait for the day when I can show him all this video and all the pictures of the people who showed up here.”
With his condition still worsening, Nino’s family is on the search for an ECMO, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, KLTV reported.
Nino’s family is among many across the U.S. in need of an ECMO machine.
The machine replaces the heart’s function by pulling blood from the body and pushing it through an artificial lung that feeds oxygen before returning it to the heart. It’s a last resort procedure that won’t treat COVID-19 but gives patients a chance to rest and recover long enough to hopefully survive.
But the machine is highly specialized and requires a dedicated team for monitoring as hospitals are grappling with a shortage of nurses, equipment and bed space, McClatchy News reported.
For Nino’s family, the outlook is dire without ECMO, the Palestine Herald-Press reported. Doctors do not expect him to recover without the machine, leaving his family and friends pleading for help to find a hospital with an opening.
“We are here and we all feel helpless, we all want to do things, and we do things like some of us have given money and things like that to help this family,” Tinsley said during a prayer at the vigil. “But we are helpless. We are all thinking about Nino and him lying up there in that bed and fighting for his life. Father, I just pray now that you be with him.”