Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) Program

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, called ECMO for short, 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 failure that is unresponsive to other ventilation and support techniques.

Our multidisciplinary ECMO program’s leadership and clinical care is based in UF’s department of surgery division of pediatric surgery, and serves patient in the neonatal ICU, pediatric ICU, congenital heart ICU and in adult units as needed. 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, ECMO requires extra bedside staff to manage the usual ICU machines and the additional equipment required for safe delivery of bypass support.

At UF Health, the ECMO team includes pediatric surgeons Saleem Islam, MD, MPH; Shawn Larson, MD and Janice Taylor, MD; neonataologists David Burchfield, MD and Michael Weiss, MD; pediatric intensivists (medical specialist in critical care medicine) Leslie Avery, MD; pediatric and adult heart surgeons Mark Bleiweis, MD and Thomas Beaver, MD, MPH; and associated specialists who all work together to provide the best opportunity for patient recovery. The bedside ECMO specialists are led by Karla Stringfellow, RRT, coordinator of the ECMO program. The UF Health ECMO team has supported well over 300 patients with survival rates that meet or exceed national rates, and even leads the country in specific areas like congenital diaphragmatic hernia.