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Local police officer recovers at home after COVID-19 discharge from St. Luke's (KSDK-TV)

One month ago, Dave Tenorio had a celebration unlike any other as he left St. Luke's Hospital in Chesterfield after recovering from COVID-19. 

Dave, 55, had only hours to live when Dr. Jeremy Leidenfrost, a St. Luke’s cardiothoracic surgeon, put him on ECMO. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) drains the blood from the biggest vein in a person’s body and sends it through tubes into machines that oxygenate it before sending it back into the right atrium of the heart. The machines act as artificial lungs outside a person’s body.  

“We use this technology and it is an amazing technology, but if you don’t have the people to actually take care of someone, minute-to-minute, it doesn’t mean anything," Dr. Leidenfrost told KSDK. 

Thanks the amazing care team at St. Luke’s – nurses, doctors, perfusionists, technicians and more – one week after Dave was put on ECMO, he was taken off the machine and put back on a ventilator. A few days later, he was breathing on his own again.  

The treatment combined with the nursing and care staff at St. Luke’s saved his life. On April 24, he got to go home.

“It was a very surreal feeling that afternoon,” Dave told KSDK. “Everybody made me feel like I was a rock star. The cheering and the clapping and everything that was just so incredibly loud.”

Read and watch the full story KSDK story on Dave’s recovery: St. Louis Police Officer's near-fatal battle with COVID-19 . You can also watch more of Dr. Leidenfrost’s interview with Christine Byers