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Critically ill Luke (11) close to death before 'revolutionary' treatment


Luke Martindale

Luke Martindale

Luke Martindale

AN IRISH boy who became critically ill has been saved by a revolutionary medical treatment in the UK.

Luke Martindale, from Co Leitrim, became the first child to receive the rare treatment that ultimately enabled him to have a liver transplant.

Luke (11) was flown to King's College Hospital in London after he became suddenly seriously ill.

Doctors in Dublin found that Luke's body was quickly shutting down, and that he needed immediate surgery in London.

However by the time the donor's organ was brought to the hospital, Luke's condition worsened, and he became too unwell for the surgery.

As a last resort, doctors at King's decided to put him put him through an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) treatment, which kept his lungs and heart alive.


The treatment removes blood from the patient's body, artificially removes carbon dioxide and oxygenates the red blood cells, before the blood is returned.

Luke's mother Norma said that she couldn't believe how fast her son's health deteriorated.

"He was so sick, and everything happened so quickly. He was in intensive care at King's, and before he went on the ECMO machine he had turned from yellow into an orange or green colour.

"The fact he is here with me and my husband now, and his three brothers and sisters, is amazing," she said.

Within two hours of the ECMO treatment, Luke was deemed fit enough to undergo liver transplant surgery.

Norma said that she was "so grateful" to the doctors who treated him, while giving particular praise for the donor who gave their liver to save Luke's life.

"I have my little boy back," Norma said.

Doctors at King's believe Luke's case could lead to more lives being saved.