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Children's Hospital Foundation Heart Center

Providing ECMO care to critically ill infants and children

ECMO Gold Center of Excellence awardThe Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU is one of the only hospitals in Central Virginia with the specialized team and equipment to provide life-saving extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation care to critically ill infants and children. We were one of the first member hospitals of the International Extracorporeal Life Support Organization.

Now patients and their loved ones have even more assurances that their children are in the best possible hands as we have received a prestigious Gold Level ELSO Award for Excellence in Life Support from the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO).

What does ECMO stand for and what is it used for?

ECMO stands for extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation, which is a fancy way of saying that the treatment uses an artificial lung (oxygenator) to get oxygen to your child’s body and remove carbon dioxide, working like a healthy lung would.

When a child’s heart and lungs are too sick to function on their own, this treatment takes over, allowing time for other treatments to work and the body to heal. ECMO uses a pump to circulate the blood through the artificial lung and back into the bloodstream.

Care at the CHoR

We were one of the first member hospitals of the International Extracorporeal Life Support Organization and are the only gold-certified Center of Excellence in Central VA. This signifies that our team of doctors, nurses, ECMO specialists and perfusionists have the training, experience and expertise to care for infants and children who need this advanced cardiopulmonary life support.

Our dedicated ECMO team will monitor your child’s health around the clock while receiving the life-saving treatment.

  • Dedicated team: Our pediatric ECMO specialists provide care 24/7.
  • Routine monitoring: Our team of specialists will monitor your child’s vital signs, administer any medications and monitor the ECMO machine.
  • Scans and testing: X-rays and blood tests will be done to check for any changes in the lungs or heart, ensuring your child receives the best care.  

When is ECMO needed?

ECMO can help newborns and children with a variety of medical problems and conditions, including:

  • Congenital heart disease
  • Congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH)
  • Persistent pulmonary hypertension
  • Meconium aspiration syndrome
  • Infection/Sepsis
  • Pneumonia
  • Near drowning
  • Asthma
  • Post-operative cardiac care

Support services for families with children on ECMO

We know that you will want to be involved in your child’s care, but don’t necessarily know what to expect during this time. Know that we are here for you, every step of the way. We offer a variety of support services to help your family navigate this difficult time.

ECMO frequently asked questions 

Kai'Ayshia's story

Kai'Ayshia's story

Kai'Ayshia developed a massive pulmonary embolus that was putting major strain on her heart.

ECMO protected her brain and other vital organs while our team cared for her fragile heart. Dr. Yeh explains.