A center of excellence at Johns Hopkins Children's Center, the ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) Program provides critical support for infants and children with life-threatening illnesses or injuries. ECMO is a heart and lung bypass system that takes over the functions of these organs, allowing physicians time to diagnose and treat critically ill or injured children and enabling the organs to heal.
ECMO is a program of the Division of Pediatric Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine. The ECMO multidisciplinary team consists of highly trained pediatric respiratory therapists who work closely with other multidisciplinary team members in the care of these critically ill patients. ECMO patients are cared for in our pediatric intensive care unit (PICU).
The Children’s Center was the first hospital in Maryland to treat children with ECMO, beginning its program in 1988. By 2009, it had developed an extension to this life-preserving service: a VAD (ventricular assist device) program. Because patients typically cannot remain on ECMO for more than a few weeks, due to bleeding and infection risks, the Children’s Center developed a VAD program to afford children awaiting heart transplants more time. A more stable bridge to transplant, VAD follows ECMO, and takes over the pumping function of the heart.
To help children with heart failure nearing the end of their time on ECMO in regional hospitals, the Children’s Center team devised a highly specialized transport service to bring these patients to the Children’s Center, the only VAD and pediatric organ transplant provider in the area. Today, the Pediatric ECMO Transport Service, which employs a specially equipped ambulance, transports ECMO patients to the Children’s Center. ECMO air transport is in development.
Johns Hopkins Children’s Center is the only facility in the state of Maryland that provides this service and VAD to children and newborns.
Pediatric ECMO/VAD Coordinator
John Young, RRT