Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation

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Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) involves circulating some of a person’s blood out of the body, through an artificial lung that fills it with oxygen and returns it back to the body. This procedure is used most frequently for babies and children with conditions that involve life-threatening but reversible respiratory and/or cardiac failure that is unresponsive to other ventilation and support techniques.

Our multidisciplinary extracorporeal life support (ECLS), often referred to as ECMO, program serves neonatal and pediatric patients in the neonatal ICU, pediatric ICU and congenital heart ICU. Patients with reversible forms of lung and cardiac failure are supported for several days, and sometimes several weeks, to allow time for their lungs and/or heart to recover. A highly intensive therapy, ECLS requires extra bedside staff to manage the usual ICU machines and the additional equipment required for safe delivery of bypass support.

At UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital, our multidisciplinary team includes pediatric surgeons, congenital heart surgeons, neonatal intensivists and pediatric intensivists, as well as specialized respiratory therapists, nurses and perfusionists. Our pediatric surgeons are experts at providing both veno-venous (VV) ECMO (which does the work of the lungs) and veno-arterial (VA) ECMO (which does the work of both the heart and lungs) for the sickest patients. This applies to newborns with severe congenital diaphragmatic hernia or meconium aspiration, infants with respiratory failure and teenagers with burns or other traumatic injuries.

The UF Health ECMO team has supported well over 300 patients with survival rates that meet or exceed national rates, and it even leads the country in specific areas like congenital diaphragmatic hernia.

Meet Dr. Saleem Islam, Chief of Pediatric Surgery

Saleem Islam, MD, MPH, leads our pediatric surgery team at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital, which also includes Shawn Larson, MD, FACS, Moiz Mustafa, MD, Robin Petroze, MD, MPH, and Janice Taylor, MD, MEd.  Dr. Islam is passionate about all areas of pediatric surgery, including fetal care and our multidisciplinary extracorporeal membrane oxygen program.