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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.

Why Choose UHealth?

Comprehensive, family-centered care. We offer comprehensive, interdisciplinary care and management of complex medical conditions, as well as the continual involvement of parents and families. Our team spearheaded family-centered care as a standard for pediatric critical care, involving parents and families in our doctors' daily rounds to provide updates on status and progress.

Treating young patients from all over the world. Our critical care specialists have significant experience taking care of a culturally diverse patient population. Children and their families come from all over the world to receive quality care, compassionately delivered by outstanding pediatric specialists and other skilled medical professionals within our facilities.

Top-notch care in an academic health system. Backed by one of the nation’s top universities, our team uses the latest technologies and research-driven expertise to provide your child with superior, personalized care and the best outcomes possible. We’re the only academic health center in South Florida with developmental and behavioral pediatric specialists on staff.

Commitment to research and education. As part of a university-based health system, our critical care team is involved in several clinical trials at any given time. Our department houses a three-year fellowship program in pediatric critical care. Our ongoing involvement in research and training the next generation of pediatric critical care providers allows us to offer the latest innovative, emerging treatments more quickly and safely than other facilities.

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