Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)

The Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) programThe Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) program at Children’s of Alabama uses a heart-lung bypass machine to help critically ill or injured patients provide oxygen to the blood while allowing the heart and lungs to heal or rest. Patients requiring ECMO range from newborns to 18 years of age. Newborns who have difficulty shortly after birth due to infection, meconium aspiration, congenital diaphragmatic hernia or pulmonary hypertension are candidates for ECMO. Children with cardiac (heart conditions) may require short term ECMO support after surgery or prior to surgery to allow heart to rest. Older infants and children suffering from life threatening respiratory failure or severe infections may require ECMO support. ECMO Support is used only after all other medical treatment has failed and the odds of survival without it would be less than 20 percent.

Children’s ECMO Center is equipped with eight machines and staffed by specially trained ECLS specialists including 40 registered nurses, respiratory therapists and perfusionists. The physician team includes pediatric and cardiac surgeons, pediatric intensivists and a neonatologists. The staff averages more than eleven years of ECMO experience. When the program began in 1987, Children’s was one of the first pediatric hospitals in the southeast to offer ECMO. Since then over 850 children have received the treatment, an average of 42 cases per year.

Specialty rooms for ECMO treatment were incorporated into the design of Children’s Benjamin Russell Hospital Building, a 12-story expansion that opened to patients in August, 2012. Located in the NICU, PICU and CVICU, the rooms offer flexibility, privacy and the opportunity for families to stay at bedside.

Children’s ECMO program has earned the “Award for Excellence in Life Support” and been designated a Center of Excellence by the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO) at the Platinum Level.

A designated Center of Excellence achieves an extraordinary level of patient care through the use of the highest quality care measures, processes, training, education, collaboration and communication. The ELSO Award signifies a commitment to exceptional patient care and an assurance of high standards among caregivers, use of specialized equipment and supplies, defined patient protocols and advanced education of all staff. Children’s ECMO Center was particularly noted for its comprehensive education program for staff.

For more information, contact Martha McBride MSN, CRNP ECMO Clinical Coordinator and/or Jenny Ross BSN, Lead Primer, at 205-638-9962A Prenatal Tour can be arranged for parents with prenatal diagnosis that may require ECMO Support after discussion with your OB / Pediatric Surgeon or Cardiac team.