‘A Night for Heroes’ honors life-saving staff at UF Health

Event raises money for new life-saving equipment for the hospital

On Saturday, the TraumaOne team will celebrate all the hands it takes to save a life during “A Night for Heroes.”

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That’s when emergency medicine health experts are available at UF Health in Jacksonville.

On Saturday, the TraumaOne team will celebrate all the hands it takes to save a life during “A Night for Heroes.”

For two local families, sudden and deadly emergencies almost took away the simple joys in life and changed their lives forever.

But they were tragedies prevented thanks to a simple-looking machine and the special skills of the people at UF Health.

A combination of years of planning, precise training and chance saved the lives of Dr. Luis Rios, a UF Health Physician, and Brandon Taylor, the first patient ever treated at UF Health using a device called “ECMO", an advanced form of life support that pumps and oxygenates a patient’s blood outside the body, allowing the heart and lungs to rest.

UF Health will honor the survivors Saturday night during the event that will raise money for life-saving equipment like ECMO, but the event will also focus on all the people involved in saving a single life: First responders, physicians, nurses, rehab specialists and many, many others in the process.

On his way to work on a foggy morning in Kingsland, Georgia, Taylor hit a log truck making a wide turn. He doesn’t remember any of it, but his wife Brittany does. She got the call and realized how serious it was when she got to UF Health and saw him.

“They came in and said, look, he’s not going to make it through the night,” she said.

But he did make it, because of ECMO, which had just been given the go-ahead to start accepting patients.

“It ultimately saved his life. That was our last option,” Brittany said.

The ECMO device also saved Rios, an ER doctor at UF Health when a massive infection almost took his life over a year ago.

His wife Melanie is a critical care nurse, and she started calling family members to say “Come quick, he’s dying.

Instead, he survived, and he is also an honoree Saturday night at the event which will be held at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront starting at 5:30 p.m.

About the Author:

Kent Justice co-anchors News4Jax's 5 p.m., 10 and 11 p.m. newscasts weeknights and reports on government and politics. He also hosts "This Week in Jacksonville," Channel 4's hot topics and politics public affairs show each Sunday morning at 9 a.m.