The quick actions of a multidisciplinary team from Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) are credited with saving the life of a young man who recently had a nearly fatal heart attack while playing basketball. The team was also aided by the revolutionary ECMO technology.

1. Members of the multidisciplinary team.The patient, a 33-year-old-man, lost consciousness and collapsed after suffering from a full cardiac arrest while playing basketball with colleagues, who called an ambulance and began performing first aid (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). The ambulance arrived within five minutes and transferred the man to the Emergency Department of Hamad General Hospital.

Dr Ibrahim Fawzy Hassan, Director of Medical Intensive Care Unit and Deputy Medical Director of the HMC Ambulance Service, said the combination of skilled multidisciplinary team and an innovative technology saved the patient’s life. The technology, called ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation), was able to take over the functions of the heart and lungs, essentially breathing for the patient and pumping oxygenated blood into his vital organs.

Dr Hassan proudly shared that the patient’s successful recovery is a testament to the skill and resourcefulness of their dedicated team. He said they were all thrilled that the patient is doing so well.

The ECMO technology acted as the patient’s lungs and heart, ensuring they get enough oxygen by circulating their blood outside of the body. HMC is one of only a handful of health systems in this region using the technology, which requires specialised training to operate. This technology, coupled with the teamwork of clinicians from across HMC, was instrumental in saving the patient’s life.

ECMO also provided the time needed to stabilise the patient’s condition until he could be transferred to the Heart Hospital. Upon transfer, the patient underwent open heart surgery and two weeks later was discharged in good health.

During the Grand Round held last week at HMC, Dr Hassan recognised the skill and quick action of the clinicians involved, stating that international research indicates only a small proportion of survival for patients who experience sudden cardiac arrest outside the hospital. He said  that the poor survival rate is largely the result of delays in calling for an ambulance, not providing proper first aid, and lack of access to technology such as ECMO.

Dr Alhady Yusof, a Senior Consultant of Medical Intensive Care at Hamad General Hospital, said the positive outcome of the incident demonstrates the power of working together as a team to deliver comprehensive care.

Without the prompt response, excellent skills, and hard work of our pre-hospital team, and the magnificent reaction from the ECMO team, led by Dr Abdul Salam Saif, this patient would not have had such a good neurological outcome. The cardiac arrest time was very long, and the ECMO therapy completed the picture.’

Dr Saif, who is a Senior Consultant in the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Hamad General Hospital, echoed this colleague’s comments, underscoring the team effort involved in achieving the positive outcome.

The outstanding management of the accident and emergency team, with the timely and appropriate referral to specialised care, and the excellent response from the catheterisation laboratory team led by Dr Abdul Rahman Arabi, were key factors in the patient’s response to definitive treatment.’

Dr Nick Castle, Assistant Executive Director and Head of Professions at the HMC Ambulance Service, added that the specialised skills of the surgical team were instrumental in the patient’s recovery.

HMC first began using ECMO technology four years ago. To date, around a hundred patients have benefited from the lifesaving treatment. The highly-specialised therapy requires a multidisciplinary team of specialised physicians and nurses.

For more information about the ECMO technology, visit the HMC website at