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Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation Program (ECMO)
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Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation Program (ECMO)


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In 1984, Children’s National Medical Center became the first children's hospital to offer an Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) program.

This critical program provides newborns, children, and adults with respiratory or cardiac failure minute-to-minute bedside support from physicians and experts who specialize in the complex technology used during ECMO care.

Improving Outcomes for Our Most Fragile Patients
ECMO is a modified form of heart and lung bypass used on a temporary basis, and an alternative to conventional methods of life support.

Large catheters are placed into patient’s blood vessels, which drain blood from the body into the ECMO machine. The ECMO then functions for the patient’s heart and lungs, providing blood pressure support and oxygen. This allows the heart and lungs to rest and gives the body time to repair itself until ECMO support is no longer needed.

An example of the value of ECMO is the improved survival rate as high at 95 percent for infants with meconium aspiration syndrome, a somewhat rare but potentially serious condition. Our newborn ECMO patients recover in Children’s Neonatal Neurodevelopmental follow-up Clinic.

Excellence in ECMO Care
Children’s ECMO program is one of the largest in the nation and recognized as an “ECMO Center of Excellence” by the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization.

Members of Children's ECMO team conduct active research into therapies for respiratory distress, working to improve outcomes for all patients. Children’s also offers a national and international training program to instruct other providers in the use of ECMO, and our specialists host a major international scientific conference on ECMO care every year.

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