Man with COVID-19 who spent 3 months on life-support released from Hamilton hospital


Published July 7, 2021 at 8:05 pm


After spending three months on life-support, 45-year-old Mike VanNetten was released from Hamilton General Hospital (HGH) on June 30.

Mike was sent to the intensive care unit with COVID-19 in April, where he was put on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine. The artificial heart-lung bypass machine is reserved for some of the sickest patients who are in severe cardiac or respiratory failure, according to a spokesperson with Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS).

“The care Mike has received is beyond anything I have ever experienced,” says Mike’s wife, Sarah VanNetten. “The healthcare team takes care of their patients, but they address the care of their loved ones as well. They are angels in scrubs.”

Several HHS nurses, physicians, and other health care staff were present to say goodbye to Mike — a chicken farmer from Norfolk County.

“Mike and his family are wonderful, and we are very happy that he is able to go home,” says Dr. Craig Ainsworth, cardiologist and intensivist at the HGH. “Mike is a true success story with ECMO in COVID patients. The staff and physicians who cared for Mike and patients like him work very hard every day for moments like this.”

On April 3, Mike was experiencing cold-like symptoms, according to HHS. By April 8, he had developed chills and a fever and had a persistent cough.

After being urged by his wife to go to the hospital, Mike was put on a ventilator at Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington on April 10. 

On April 13 he was airlifted to HGH where he was put on the ECMO machine.

“ECMO is the most aggressive form of life support in an intensive care unit, and it requires a whole team of trained health care workers. They are required to constantly monitor and respond to these patients through the course of their time on the machine,” says Dr. Faizan Amin, medical director of the HHS ECMO program. “Having ECMO in Hamilton is allowing us to serve the most critically ill patients in our region.”

HGH is one of only four hospitals in Ontario to provide ECMO care. The life-saving machine was introduced early in 2020.

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