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When a child’s lungs or heart aren’t working, our Nemours Children's team can use a technology that gives these organs a chance to rest and heal. Called “extracorporeal membrane oxygenation” (“ECMO,” for short), it’s a machine that temporarily takes over for the heart, lungs or both by pumping blood and delivering oxygen throughout the body.

“Extracorporeal” means treatment that takes place outside the body. “Membrane” means a type of artificial lung. “Oxygenation” means supplying oxygen to the blood. At Nemours, our ECMO teams combine a mastery of this technology with support services to help families navigate a challenging time.

Learn more about Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) at the Nemours KidsHealth Library

Our ECMO Care

Depending on a child’s needs, we may use one of two ECMO treatments:

  • Venoarterial (VA) ECMO. This is when both the heart and lungs need to rest. This type of ECMO pumps blood and breathes for a child.
  • Venovenous (VV) ECMO. This is when the heart is working, but the lungs need time to rest. This type of ECMO doesn’t pump blood.

Our ECMO care team members may include:

  • Attending physician/surgeon — the doctor in charge of your child’s care
  • ECMO coordinator — the manager of the ECMO department who acts as an extra resource for the care team
  • ECMO physician — a doctor who specializes in ECMO treatment
  • ECMO specialist — a nurse, respiratory therapist or perfusionist who’s specially trained to monitor the machine
  • Perfusionist — a specialist with advanced training in heart-lung machines and ECMO
  • Respiratory therapist — a specialist in ventilators (breathing machines) and lung care
  • Nurse — a pediatric nurse who cares for your child in the hospital
  • Nurse practitioner — a nurse with advanced training and education who provides care under the guidance of the attending physician/surgeon
  • Social worker — a professional who helps families cope

Find ECMO Care From Nemours

Find the ECMO specialists closest to you:

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Conditions We Treat

ECMO (also known as extracorporeal life support or “ECLS”) treats serious problems of the heart and/or lungs. The most common conditions that may require treatment with an ECMO machine include:

Why Choose Us

Our care is about more than an ECMO machine. It’s a team of nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists and more with experience using this proven, life-saving technology and supporting your family along the way.

Regional ECMO Highlights

Services, programs and care teams differ at each location. Call for details.

Delaware Valley/Greater Philadelphia

We offer full-service ECMO care at Nemours Children’s Hospital, Delaware (Wilmington, Del.).

  • The state’s only neonatal (newborn) ECMO center
  • The only children’s hospital in the region to offer ECMO transport — a mobile version of ECMO, which allows us to extend our reach to children hundreds of miles away
  • Gold Level Award for Excellence in Life Support from the international Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO)
  • Only the second children’s hospital in the country designated an Accredited Heart Failure Institute
  • Doctors and nurses visiting from as far away as Brazil and Korea to train on our simulators and bring ECMO to their own hospitals

Central Florida

We offer ECMO care at Nemours Children’s Hospital, Florida (Orlando).

  • Full-service care for children with rare and complex heart conditions
  • Large care team that visits with you each morning to discuss the care plan for that day
  • Kid-friendly imaging when the ECMO team needs to take a picture of a child’s heart or lungs