WVU’s Hayanga delivers 10th Annual Van Praag lecture

MORGANTOWN — J.W. Awori Hayanga, M.D., M.P.H., director of the ECMO Program at the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute, returned to his alma mater to deliver the 10th Annual Lynn Van Praag Critical Care and Cardiac Surgery Lecture at Johns Hopkins University on April 14. 

Dr. Hayanga’s lecture, titled “Cannulate, Extubate, Ambulate,” described the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute’s journey through COVID-19, which has the highest survival rate of ECMO patients with COVID in the nation and has had great success with the survival of pregnant patients.

“The pandemic provided us the ultimate challenge, and we, as WVU Medicine responded, with a multidisciplinary, team-based approach that saved lives and which we are increasingly called upon to teach at outside centers,” Hayanga said. “It was heartwarming to return to Hopkins to teach the WVU way.”

ECMO, which stands for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, supports patients with failing organ systems. It is one of the most advanced forms of life support available to patients experiencing acute failure of the cardio-respiratory system. It allows time for the patient’s lungs or heart to heal by using a heart-lung machine to oxygenate the blood outside the body over a period of time.

The WVU Heart and Vascular Institute’s recommendations for the use of ECMO in COVID patients were published in the Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery in October. This followed the Institute receiving the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization Gold Level Center of Excellence Award, which recognizes those centers that demonstrate an exceptional commitment to evidence-based processes and quality measures, staff training and continuing education, patient satisfaction, and ongoing clinical care.

In April 2020, Hayanga was appointed a special advisor by then-U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Eric D. Hargan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hayanga came to the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute in 2017 from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, where he served as assistant professor and director of lung transplant outcomes research. He received his medical degree from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, his Master of Public Health degree from Johns Hopkins, his Master’s in Healthcare Leadership from Brown University, and a Certificate in Artificial Intelligence and Business Strategy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is board certified in general surgery, surgical critical care, and cardiothoracic surgery.

For more information on the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute, visit WVUMedicine.org/Heart.