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Arizona veteran in hospital with COVID-19 stuck on lung machine waitlist


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    PHOENIX, Arizona ( KPHO/KTVK) — Victoria Arviso is heartbroken and waiting helplessly as her 35-year-old brother fights a severe case of COVID-19 pneumonia at the VA Medical Center in Phoenix.

“I am just praying to God if there is a machine or bed in Arizona that he does get it because he does deserve a second chance at life,” said Arviso.

Brian Yazzie is currently on a ventilator fighting for his life. Doctors say he needs to be put on an ECMO machine, an advanced life support treatment for the heart and lungs. But so far, Arviso said no Valley hospitals will take him.

“I was informed that Banner and Dignity Health have said, ‘Yes, we can accept your brother, but unfortunately, our beds are full. We don’t have a machine for him,'” said Arviso.

Banner Health, the largest health care system in the state, says it is at capacity for ECMO machines. Other hospitals might be at capacity too or don’t have enough staff to monitor patients on the machines.

“These machines are pretty full in the Valley, and not only does it require one nurse, it requires using two nurses,” said Dr. Frank Lovecchio, a Valley emergency room doctor.

Arviso said doctors tell her if Yazzie doesn’t get on an ECMO machine by Thursday, he will get moved off the ECMO waitlist and his body could start shutting down. She says Yazzie was unvaccinated but planed to get the shots until it was too late. As she visits him Wednesday night, she hopes it isn’t the last time she sees her brother.

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