Two Year Old is First U.S. Patient to Use Novalung
The first U.S. patient to use the artificial lung Novalungs is two-year-old Owen Stark from Eldon, Missouri.
Young Owen collapse on June 10. He was initially taken to a hospital in Columbia, then flown to St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
His parents, Justin and Tonya, had noticed Owen wasn't eating much and had a low-grade fever. In fact Owen had just been to his local doctor shortly before his collapse.
Doctors at St. Louis Children’s Hospital diagnosed Owen with idiopathic pulmonary artery hypertension (IPAH). IPAH is a serious syndrome, with significant morbidity and mortality whose cause is unknown. It can be associated with progressive high blood pressure of the pulmonary artery (the artery to the lungs) and can lead to right ventricular failure. The disease is very rare and almost unheard of in young children.
Owen’s doctors petitioned the Food and Drug Administration to use a Berlin-made artificial lung device called Novalungs. The Novalungs is used in Europe and Canada, but not FDA-approved in the U.S. The FDA granted a "compassionate release use."
The plan was to use the device to buy time while they waited for a lung to become available. Owen surprised them by recovering so well he has been taken off the lung transplant list.
"I don't think there's any question it saved his life," Dr. Mark Grady, a pediatric cardiologist at St. Louis Children's Hospital, said Wednesday.
There have been complications. Owen suffered a stroke about three weeks after the artificial lung was put into use. It was removed, and he is undergoing therapy.
Owen continues to improvement each day. His parents are hopeful he will be able to go home in just a few weeks.