ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation)

We use ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) to support infants and children whose hearts and lungs are very weak or need advanced support to help them recover.

Housed within our family-friendly cardiac intensive care unit, the ECMO Program at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital Heart Institute supports critically ill children who come to us from across South Florida. Our committed specialists work together to provide outstanding ECMO care for children.

What Is ECMO?

ECMO is an advanced form of life support that does the work of the heart and lungs when those organs are failing.

The job of the heart and lungs is to circulate blood and oxygen throughout the body. The ECMO machine does that for the child, using a pump and an artificial lung. We use ECMO for some children who are:

  • Critically ill with respiratory failure
  • Awaiting surgery
  • Recovering from surgery
  • Experiencing advanced heart failure

ECMO requires a short surgery to establish support. The surgical and critical care medicine teams will monitor your child closely the entire time to make sure your child does not feel any pain.

How We Care for Children on ECMO

ECMO is an important lifesaving treatment, and children at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital receive ECMO care that meets or exceeds national averages. We offer:

  • ECMO specialists: We monitor children receiving ECMO treatment 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in our cardiac intensive care unit (ICU). Our experienced ECMO specialists are also equipped to provide newborn patients with individualized care, monitoring and attention. Learn more about the heart care team.
  • Strong outcomes: We use ECMO to support 20-25 children each year who have severe respiratory or cardiac problems. Since we established our ECMO program in 1984, we have supported children with minimal complications and survival rates that meet or exceed national averages. We can also transport children on ECMO.
  • Award-winning critical care: The Society of Critical Care Medicine presented our ICU with the Family-Centered Care Innovation Award. This award recognizes hospitals that focus on keeping the family in the center of care. For us, this means parents with children on ECMO can stay with their child the entire time. We also involve you in care decisions and talk with you daily about your child’s condition. Learn more about our cardiac ICU.
  • Innovative PediMag device: The PediMag device is another alternative for children whose hearts and lungs need temporary support. The PediMag device and ECMO are temporary, less invasive substitutes for VADs for certain children. (A VAD is a pump that we surgically implant to help support a child’s heart while waiting for a heart transplant.) Using the PediMag device can give us time to decide if your child needs a heart transplant or not. Learn more about our VAD and heart transplant programs.

Contact Us

To schedule an appointment or learn about our award-winning pediatric heart team, call 954-265-3437.