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Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)


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Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is a life-support technique that's used for children with serious heart or lung problems. ECMO uses a machine to perform the function of the heart or lungs — or both.

University of Miami Health System pediatric critical care specialists have advanced training and experience to care for children with life-threatening illness. Our team of pediatric doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, and other critical care experts give your child personalized attention.

Who is a Candidate?

If your child has a serious illness that affects their lungs, heart, or both, they may need ECMO to help them heal.

What to Expect

The critical care specialist places special tubes (cannulas) into the blood vessels that go directly into your child’s heart or bloodstream. This is how ECMO works: 

  • The cannulas transfer the blood from your child’s heart using a pump to push the blood through tubes to a machine, where the blood is oxygenated and the carbon dioxide is removed. 
  • The machine warms your child’s blood to body temperature. 
  • The warm blood returns to your child’s body through another cannula.

Doctors use ECMO as a temporary measure to give your child’s body time to heal and recover from serious illness. It’s not used for long-term support.


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