A Buffalo, N.Y., medical worker would have died of COVID-19 without the use of the seldom used ECMO, reports KATC.

Dr. Jain said Schaffer had one last chance and that was to bring in a rarely-used medical device that might help him survive. It’s called the extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine, or ECMO for short.

“You can take over the work of the lungs, or the heart and the lungs,” said Dr. Jain. “That allows the machine to take over work and let those organ systems rest, and hopefully, recover.”

For Schaffer, it gave his body a chance to fight when nothing else could.

“Without it, I certainly would not be here right now,” said Schaffer.

For so many families wondering why this rare device wasn’t used for their loved one, the ECMO machine is harder on the lungs than a ventilator and works only on patients that have few or no pre-existing conditions.

Only about 1,000 hospitals in the country have an ECMO machine and the staff needed to run it, and it’s not always successful. Only about 50 percent of patients survive.

Read more at KATC.