Hospital names lifesaving machine after man who died from COVID-19

The machine that gives patients’ organs time to heal will bear the name of a man whose family used that time to soak up his final moments.
Updated: Jun. 18, 2021 at 11:11 PM CDT
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DENISON, Texas (KXII) -- COVID-19 is a waiting game.

“The whole time they tell us to wait and let healing take place and they tell us to wait for the meds to work,” said Krista Waitt.

So when John Waitt, his wife Krista and their youngest son came down with the virus, that’s what they did.

Until John’s condition got worse.

But even then, he found joy.

“John was about as special of a story as it comes,” said Brandon Davis, RN and ECMO coordinator for Texoma Medical Center.

John was no stranger to the healthcare field.

He worked in home health until the moment he got sick.

He even worked at TMC for decades.

So nurses and doctors there knew he wasn’t giving up his fight.

“The machine kind of takes over the workload of those injured lungs or injured heart. That way we can rest those injured organs and give them time,” said Davis.

John and his family stuck together.

They say it’s part of their name, an acronym for their family motto.

“We are in this together,” said Waitt.

During John’s 33-day stay at TMC’s ICU, their family grew.

“Just about every single day with him, I was there with him. I was there with his family. They’re amazing people,” said Davis.

When John passed away in January at the age of 59, the hospital staff knew they had to do something.

They decided an ECMO machine, the kind that gave John more time at the end of his life, would be the perfect tribute to bear his name.

“I know this would mean so much to my husband because he always wanted to give back to this community and to know his name is on a device that will save lives,” said Waitt.

So on Thursday, what would’ve been his 60th birthday, Krista brought treats to her new extended family.

They presented her with John’s namesake.

“You look at someone in their eyes and they’re in desperation mode and they just need someone, a shoulder to cry on, a hand to hold, someone to just listen to them, you know,” said Davis. “That’s what we’re here for.”

The name, the meaning and the man behind it will now live on forever.

“I just hope they realize when they’re here they’re not alone. I mean, we are in this together,” said Waitt.

Now no one will forget it.

“I’m not going to stop saying his name,” said Waitt.

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