Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)

In 1984, Children’s National became the first children's hospital to offer Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO). This critical program provides newborns, children, and adults with respiratory or cardiac failure minute-to-minute bedside support from physicians and experts who specialize in the complex technology used during ECMO care.

About this Treatment

About this Treatment

Improving Outcomes for Our Most Fragile Patients 


ECMO is a modified form of heart and lung bypass used on a temporary basis and an alternative to conventional methods of life support. Large catheters are placed into patient’s blood vessels, which drain blood from the body into the ECMO machine. The ECMO then functions for the patient’s heart and lungs, providing blood pressure support and oxygen. This allows the heart and lungs to rest and gives the body time to repair itself until ECMO support is no longer needed.

An example of the value of ECMO is the improved survival rate as high at 95 percent for infants with meconium aspiration syndrome, a somewhat rare but potentially serious condition. Our newborn ECMO patients recover in Children’s Neonatal Neurology and Neonatal Neurocritical Care Program.

Applicable Conditions

Applicable Conditions

Excellence in ECMO Care 

Children’s ECMO program is one of the largest in the nation and recognized as an “ECMO Center of Excellence” by the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization.

Members of Children's ECMO team conduct active research into therapies for respiratory distress, working to improve outcomes for all patients. Children’s also offers a national and international training program to instruct other providers in the use of ECMO, and our specialists host a major international scientific conference on ECMO care every year. 

Applicable conditions:

  • Meconium Aspiration Syndrome
  • Congenital diaphragmatic hernia
  • Persistent pulmonary hypertension
  • Pneumonia
  • Sepsis

Children's Team

Children's Team

Providers

Billie Lou Short

Division Chief, Neonatology

Billie Short, MD, is the chief of the Division of Neonatology and the chief of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Dr. Short also is the Executive Director of the Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation Program (ECMO).

Children's Locations that Perform this Procedure

Children's Locations that Perform this Procedure

Treatment Service Locations

main hospital

Main Hospital

111 Michigan Avenue, NW
Washington, District of Columbia 20010

Show more Locations
Our Stories

Our Stories

Timothy's Story

 Other than the scar on the right side of his neck, there are no visible signs that he went through such grave trauma at birth."

Departments

Departments

Neonatology

Whether your infant has arrived prematurely or has a critical illness, the Children’s National team assists in coordinating every service you and your baby need, including consultations, assessments, emergency treatments, and continuing care.

Dialysis Program

Children’s National has the only dialysis facility in the Washington, DC, region dedicated exclusively for infants, children, and teens.

Children's National in Your Neighborhood

A location marker

Did you know Children’s National has more than 50 locations throughout the region? Find one that’s convenient for your family.

Find a Children's Location Near You