The Clinical Perfusionist is an individual qualified by professional credentialing and academic and clinical education to provide extracorporeal patient care services.
Our pediatric Perfusionists are board certified allied health professionals trained and educated specifically as members of the congenital heart surgery team. They are responsible for the selection, setup and operation of the heart-lung machine, ECMO, Ventricular Assist Devices, auto-transfusion and any other circulation equipment during medical procedures where it is necessary to support or temporarily replace a patient's respiratory and/or circulatory functions. Children's of Alabama has 4 perfusionists and 3 perfusionist assistants. Our perfusion department has authored or co-authored 13 peer reviewed publications.
During Cardio-Pulmonary Bypass, the patient’s heart is stopped during surgery so it is easier for the surgeon to operate. Using the heart-lung machine, the perfusionist diverts the patient’s blood away from the heart and lungs into the machine. The heart-lung machine oxygenates that blood and returns it to the patient’s body.
Our multi-disciplinary ECMO program consists of perfusionists, nurses, respiratory therapists, cardiac critical care physicians, cardiologists and cardiothoracic surgeons. We average around 20 ECMOs per year in the CVICU and our survival to discharge over the past 3 years is 60%, which is better than the ELSO’s (Extracorporeal Life Support Organization) average among centers internationally.
Children’s ECMO program has earned the “Award for Excellence in Life Support” and has been designated a Center of Excellence by the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO) at the Platinum Level. This designation has only been awarded to five other centers internationally.