Liesbeth Stoeffler, 61, Runner Saved Going by Uncommon Lung Therapy, Dies

Liesbeth Stoeffler’s docs had a daring determination to make in 2009. Ms. Stoeffler was on a ventilator and deeply sedated after cystic fibrosis had destroyed the lungs that had as soon as given her the flexibility to run and hike.

She wanted a double-lung transplant, however docs fearful that extended time on the respirator would possibly render her too weak or malnourished to remain eligible for one.

So docs at Columbia College Irving Medical Heart took her off the ventilator after a couple of day and hooked her to an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine, or ECMO, which pumped blood from her physique, eliminated carbon dioxide from it and despatched oxygen-rich blood flowing again into her. In impact, it acted as a synthetic lung.

It was a not often identified and dangerous deployment of the machine, however not solely did it permit Ms. Stoeffler to awaken from sedation; it additionally allowed her to eat, converse on her smartphone, train in mattress and stroll in place whereas she was linked to it — for an unusually lengthy 18 days, till the transplant came about.

After finishing trade school, she left Austria in 1977 for an au pair job in Manhattan, where she had hoped to move since she was young, her brother said in an email.

“During the first three years Liesbeth spent in New York, she refused to speak a single word of German,” Mr. Stoeffler wrote, “so she can learn English as fast and as good as possible.”

She took classes in computers and graphic design and was hired by Deutsche Bank, the Blackstone Group and finally the investment management firm Sanford C. Bernstein (now AllianceBernstein). She worked there for nearly 20 years, rising to vice president and presentation specialist and creating graphics for marketing and sales documents.

She began to experience breathing problems while at Bernstein and learned she had cystic fibrosis in 1995. But she kept it largely to herself.

“She was always coughing, causing her co-workers to ask her to check it out,” said Christina Restivo, a close friend who had met her at Bernstein and was the leader of a support team of friends who looked after her. “She kept it private until she was so far along that the only way to live was with a double transplant.”

In June 2009, after a routine blood test at the hospital, Ms. Stoeffler felt too exhausted to return home. One of her doctors, David Lederer, a pulmonologist, admitted her.

“Within 48 hours, she was in the I.C.U., on a ventilator,” he said in a video about her case made by the Irving Medical Center. He added, “She wasn’t really improving on the vent support we were providing for her, so we knew we had to do something for her.”

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