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Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) Outcomes

Willson Heart Center doctors and other clinical staff are an important part of a collaborative expert team at Valley Children’s Hospital who provide critical care services to neonates and children with life-threatening cardiac disease. For some of the smallest babies and children, this may include extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) care, also known as extracorporeal life support (ECLS). ECMO is a highly technical and invasive modality that is sometimes necessary in infants and children with serious heart or lung failure to provide temporary life support while medical and surgical therapies are given time to potentially improve the patient’s organ function. Our cardiothoracic surgeons and interventional cardiologists work closely with the intensive care physicians and staff throughout the patient’s ECMO course, which may be days to weeks depending on the underlying heart problem. Valley Children’s cardiologists also coordinate with our neonatologists and partner with maternal-fetal physicians to identify and prepare for infants with congenital or acquired heart disease who may potentially require critical invasive extraporporeal support around the time of their birth.

ELSO Platinum AwardValley Children’s Hospital is the only ECMO program caring for infants and children in the Central Valley. Our ECMO program has been recognized by the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO1) as a Platinum Center of Excellence in Life Support2, their highest designation. Valley Children’s is one of only three children’s hospitals in the Western U.S. to hold this award designation. The ELSO Award for Excellence in Life Support recognizes programs worldwide that distinguish themselves by having processes, procedures and systems in place that promote excellence and exceptional care in ECMO; it demonstrates an assurance of high quality standards, specialized equipment and supplies, defined patient protocols and advanced education of all staff members.

Compared to other ELSO ECMO centers caring for critically ill infants and children, survival outcomes at Valley Children’s Hospital for cardiac ECMO patients are excellent. Our complication rates for this complex treatment are much less than the average of other ELSO ECMO centers, meaning that we are often able to save the lives of infants and children that would otherwise be lost.

Survival to hospital discharge for neonatal and pediatric cardiac patients requiring ECMO support3

Valley Children's Hospital 73%
ELSO 58%


Complications per 1000 ECMO run hours4

Valley Children's Hospital 27


1 ELSO is an international non-profit consortium of health care centers and individuals who are dedicated to the development, evaluation and improvement of ECMO and other innovative therapies for support of failing organ systems in the neonate, child and adult. ELSO is made up of a broad multidisciplinary collaboration of physicians, nurses, perfusionists, respiratory therapists, technicians, researchers, and industry experts. Global chapters of ELSO provide education and expertise in ECMO delivery around the world.

2 Valley Children’s Hospital Platinum Center of Excellence Award is for 2023-2026. The Valley Children’s ECMO program has also previously received award recognition from ELSO in previous years.

3 Survival rates adjusted based on severity of illness using modeling from ELSO Registry 2016-2022.

4 Complication rates are unadjusted and based on those reported in the ELSO Registry 2016-2022.