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Jacksonville man in ICU with COVID-19 hoping to receive lifesaving treatment

Daughter says her father is candidate for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation

40-year-old Shane O'neal is fighting for his life against COVID-19 as he holds out for ECMO.
40-year-old Shane O'neal is fighting for his life against COVID-19 as he holds out for ECMO.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 40-year-old Jacksonville man is fighting for his life against COVID-19 as he holds out for a lifesaving technology.

Shane Oneal’s fight against COVID-19 started 2 and a half weeks ago.

“They immediately put him on oxygen. They started steroids, they started antibiotics because he had COVID pneumonia,” said Kylie Dean, Oneal’s daughter.

Dean is an ICU nurse and is pregnant with his first grandchild, a baby boy.

“I’m trying to stay hopeful for my dad because I see the effects that COVID has on patients,” said Dean.

Shane Oneal and his daughter, Kylie Dean. (Provided to WJXT)

She received a phone call on Thursday that her father was moving to the intensive care unit.

“‘Just calling to let you know, we just intubated your father.’ Of course, the very last thing he said was, ‘Call my daughter and tell her what is going on.’ He’s on the max support that a ventilator can get,” said Dean.

Within hours of intubating him, Dean said, she learned her father was a candidate for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, also known as ECMO.

“ECMO basically bypasses my dad’s heart and lungs and filters his blood for him. Oxygenates get rid of the carbon dioxide, all of these things,” said Dean. “It allows his heart and his lungs to rest.”

Unfortunately, the hospital Oneal is at doesn’t have ECMO beds. Dean said UF Health and Mayo Clinic have ECMO, but none are available. UF Health officials told News4Jax the hospital has two ECMO beds, but they are currently being used.

“His survival rate right now is 25 to 29 percent. With ECMO, it would put him closer to the 60-percent range,” said Dean. “He only has a single organ failure right now, which is his lungs. It could be a matter of time before it turns into multi-organ failure and possibly not become a candidate for ECMO.”

Dean said she has made calls to other facilities with ECMO across the country. She is praying a bed will open soon so her father can meet his first grandchild.

Dean said the hospital her father is at is also helping them try to find an ECMO bed.

She said that a week before her father was supposed to get the vaccine was when he contracted COVID-19.

About the Author:

Reports weeknights for The Ten O'Clock News and News4Jax at 11.