The Powerful Potential of a Portable Negative Pressure Wound Therapy Device

For months, John McKenzie battled a painful pressure injury that refused to heal. Then, he was outfitted with a portable Negative Pressure Wound Therapy (NPWT) device from Medela, and within weeks, he was back on his feet.

When John McKenzie woke up from a 37-day coma, he found himself struggling with recovery, facing one of the greatest challenges of his life: wound healing. A pressure injury had progressed into a significant wound, and for five weeks, John bounced in and out of hospitals and rehab centers. There, he struggled with acute pain, discomfort, and emotional distress – along with a wound that refused to heal. Finally, with the help of a dedicated Wound Care Specialist and a portable (NPWT) device, Invia Motion™, he found relief and returned to his joyful life.

John’s wound during recovery

John's Story

Before his coma, John worked for over 25 years as a human resources specialist in the biopharmaceutical research sector. “I was raised in a very ‘clinical’ family, for lack of a better term,” he says. “My father was a pharmaceutical sales rep, and my mother and older sister are both nurses.” John’s initial hospital stay, and subsequent coma, was due to acute MI1, cardiogenic shock, ventilator dependent respiratory failure and acute renal failure requiring extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) therapy in ICU for 38 days.

The pressure injury John developed, located on his mid-back, caused him significant pain and discomfort, despite an aggressive pain-management strategy.

Over the course of five weeks, traditional attempts at wound healing failed. Treatment methods included saline wet to moist dressings, alginate and absorptive dressings, enzymatic debridement and antibiotic ointment.

Frustrated with the lack of progress, John’s care team decided to utilize the  Invia Motion NPWT device from Medela. The personal-use pump, designed to deliver to patients the standard benefits of a reusable pump, offered John a discrete, cost-effective way to accelerate wound healingand return to an active lifestyle

Challenges and Progress in Wound Healing

“My wound was right in the middle of my back, and I was worried that I’d be aware of the pump at all times, and that it would be noisy,” says John.

But I only really felt it when I leaned back in a chair, and the pump was pretty much silent. I never heard it.”

When the Medela team first engaged John, he suffered from a Stage 4, mid-thoracic pressure injury measuring 5.8cm x 2.1cm x 1.1cm with circumferential undermining, moderate to serious drainage, and 85% granulation tissue with 15% slough. John’s sitting posture and the need to wear a 10-pound defibrillator constantly exerted external pressure on the wound, interfering with healing.

My wound was right in the middle of my back, and I was worried that I’d be aware of the pump at all times, and that it would be noisy,” says John. “But I only really felt it when I leaned back in a chair, and the pump was pretty much silent. I never heard it.”


After beginning treatment with the Medela NPWT device, John saw significant progress:

  • Within three weeks, John’s wound measured only 4.5cm x 2.0cm x 0.3cm – a marked improvement compared to baseline – with 100% tissue granulation noted.
  • Within another three weeks, the wound continued to shrink, measuring 4.0cm x 1.5cm x 0.02cm. At this point, NPWT was discontinued and silver alginate with film dressing was ordered.
  • About eight weeks after starting treatment, John’s wound was completely closed.

By implementing the use of a portable wound vac machine, John was able to return to a productive, rewarding life and maintain activities of daily living (ADL), including supporting his daughter’s artistic ambitions. The Invia Motion's compact, personal use pump design and clinical-grade “smart” controls facilitated wound healing, managed blockages, promoted comfort and mitigated the impact of John’s defibrillator vest.

Because of my heart attack, I was so afraid that I was going to miss my daughter’s opera debut,” notes John. “Thanks to the Invia Motion, I was able to see her perform at Neumann college. I went to the show with my pump and it did not limit me at all. For a wound that had already existed for about five months and had affected me horribly, this was an amazing solution.”


Impactful Clinical Support through Wound Care Nurses

The Medela specialists also visited John at home to ensure the device was fastened correctly.

Throughout his NPWT experience, John received visits from specially trained Medela wound care nurses. The team of experts collaborated with resident staff to educate John on his condition and recovery roadmap, troubleshoot device alarms and follow up on his progress. This support is exceptionally important for devices that rely on patient and caregiver operation after leaving the hospital.

The Medela specialists also visited John at home to ensure the device was fastened correctly, that it was working, and to check the status of the wound. They came as frequently as once or twice a week. “They talked to me like a human, understood my plight and showed true empathy, which helped me get through the whole experience with a more positive attitude,” says John.

John enjoying Thanksgiving with his family

Successful Outcomes

Now fully recovered, John is using his personal patient experience to educate others on the life-changing potential of negative pressure wound therapy devices and technology.

Over the course of my career, I’ve given a lot of speeches about drugs and the role they can play in changing lives for the better,” he says. “Now, I’m sharing my own story about the power of a medical device. I’m incredibly grateful for my recovery.”

When asked to summarize his experience with the Invia Motion portable negative pressure wound therapy device, John kept it simple. “My experience with Medela is nothing short of a miracle. It didn’t just heal my wound, it let me live again.” 

Negative Pressure Wound Therapy

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1 Myocardial Infarction, better known as "heart attack".

2 Moisidis, E., Heath, T., Boorer, C., Ho, K. & Deva, A.K. (2004). A prospective, blinded randomized, controlled clinical trial of topical negative pressure use in skin grafting. Plastic and reconstructive surgery, 114(4), p. 917-922.

3 Chen, S. Z., Li, J., Li, X. Y. & Xu, L. S. (2005). Effects of vacuum-assisted closure on wound microcirculation: an experimental study. Asian journal of surgery, 28(3), p. 211-217.

4 Apelqvist, J., Willy, C., Fagerdahl, A. M., Fraccalvieri, M., Malmsjö, M., Piaggesi, A., ... & Vowden, P. (2017). EWMA Document: Negative Pressure Wound Therapy: Overview, Challenges and Perspectives. Journal of wound care, 26(Sup3), p. 1-154.