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Perfusion and Cardiovascular ECMO


The Clinical Perfusionist is an individual qualified by professional credentialing and academic and clinical education to provide extracorporeal patient care services.

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 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, set -up 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 and is the only pediatric perfusion team in the state. The Children’s of Alabama Perfusion department cover over 400 cardiac surgeries ranging from complex neonatal heart surgeries, ventricular assist devices, ECMO and Heart transplantation. They also cover more than 50 adult congenital cardiac surgeries performed by our surgeons at UAB. Our perfusion department has authored or co-authored 20 peer reviewed publications.

Cardiovascular ECMO

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 5 years is > 65%, 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).