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Coyotes’ Cunningham to be released from hospital after ‘truly remarkable recovery’

After a month in hospital, Arizona Coyotes prospect and Tucson Roadrunners captain Craig Cunningham is on his way to being discharged from hospital. A release from Banner University of Arizona Medical Center explained the 26-year-old’s recovery.

Craig Cunningham is going home.

One month after the Arizona Coyotes prospect and Tucson Roadrunners captain collapsed on ice, the Banner University of Arizona Medical Center announced that Cunningham, 26, is expected to be discharged in time for the holiday and has had a “truly remarkable recovery.” The announcement came along with news that Cunningham will address media Wednesday to speak about the procedures he underwent in hospital.

Cunningham collapsed on Nov. 19 ahead of the Roadrunners’ game against the Manitoba Moose, and he was immediately attended to by medics who were at the arena. Cunningham had his equipment cut away so medical staff could attend to him, before he was placed on a stretcher and taken from the ice. The game was postponed, as were two subsequent games as the team awaited updates on Cunningham. 

According to the release from the hospital, Cunningham received CPR while on the ice, on the way to hospital and once he had arrived at Carondelet St. Mary’s Hospital.

The release continued, saying it was “quickly determined” that Cunningham needed to be transported to Banner University Medical Center Tucson “where he could receive advanced life-saving therapy using ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation).” 

It was at Banner UMC Tucson that Cunningham underwent further procedures to save his life.

From the release, via AZ Sports' Craig Morgan:

ECMO is a highly specialized procedure for patients who are so critically ill that no other support for the heart and lungs is adequate. A pump circulates blood through a circuit of tubing supporting heart function and through an “oxygenator” which functions as an artificial lung. It is used to help patients of all ages with life-threatening conditions that impair heart and/or lung function. Most patients who need ECMO are almost certain to die without this level of support.

The ECMO Services Program at Banner – UMC Tucson dispatched its rapid-response ECMO team to St. Mary’s to initiate ECMO on Cunningham and carefully transport him via ambulance to Banner for continued treatment.

The team—consisting of a cardiothoracic surgeon, a perfusionist and an ICU nurse—can travel by ground or airplane transport anywhere in the country to reach patients in need of ECMO. Banner – UMC Tucson is the only facility in Southern Arizona with ECMO services.

At Banner – UMC Tucson, Cunningham’s condition continued to worsen. A new procedure developed by Zain Khalpey, MD, PhD, using a left ventricular assist device, Oxy-LVAD, allowed Cunningham’s heart to recover.

The release from Banner UMC Tucson credited the “quick action of bystanders who performed effective CPR, the actions of St. Mary’s staff and the advanced technology and care provided at Tucson’s academic medical center” for Cunningham’s recovery.

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