Tucson Roadrunners captain Craig Cunningham will address reporters at a news briefing on Wednesday, Dec. 21, at 10 a.m. (MT), in Kiewit Auditorium at the University of Arizona Cancer Center in Tucson.
Cunningham will be joined by his mother, Heather; Roadrunners general manager Doug Soetaert; and members of the medical team at Banner – University Medical Center Tucson, where Cunningham has been hospitalized since collapsing on the ice prior to the Roadrunners’ game at the Tucson Convention Center Arena on Nov. 19.
Cunningham is recovering well and expects to be discharged this week.
The following details were released by Banner – UMC Tucson:
On Nov. 19, Tucson Roadrunners hockey captain Craig Cunningham collapsed on the ice before a game in the Tucson Arena at the Tucson Convention Center. Medics performed chest compression only CPR, the no-breaths technique developed at the University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center, until Cunningham arrived by ambulance at Carondelet St. Mary’s Hospital, where CPR was continued.
At St. Mary’s, the emergency department team quickly determined that he needed to be transported to Banner – University Medical Center Tucson where he could receive advanced life-saving therapy using ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation).
ECMO is a highly specialized procedure for patients who are so critically ill that no other support for the heart and lungs is adequate. A pump circulates blood through a circuit of tubing
supporting heart function and through an “oxygenator” which functions as an artificial lung. It is used to help patients of all ages with life-threatening conditions that impair heart and/or lung function. Most patients who need ECMO are almost certain to die without this level of support.
The ECMO Services Program at Banner – UMC Tucson dispatched its rapid-response ECMO team to St. Mary’s to initiate ECMO on Cunningham and carefully transport him via ambulance to Banner for continued treatment.
The team—consisting of a cardiothoracic surgeon, a perfusionist and an ICU nurse—can travel by ground or airplane transport anywhere in the country to reach patients in need of ECMO. Banner – UMC Tucson is the only facility in Southern Arizona with ECMO services.
At Banner – UMC Tucson, Cunningham’s condition continued to worsen. A new procedure developed by Zain Khalpey, MD, PhD, using a left ventricular assist device, Oxy-LVAD, allowed
Cunningham’s heart to recover.
The quick action of bystanders who performed effective CPR, the actions of St. Mary’s staff and the advanced technology and care provided at Tucson’s academic medical center have led to a truly remarkable recovery.