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  5. Pediatric ECMO

About ecmo

Baylor Scott & White McLane Children's Medical Center employs the latest treatment options to help our patients achieve successful outcomes. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is a potential treatment for children who are experiencing heart or lung failure due to a variety of issues, including trauma, birth defects or severe infection. ECMO treatment mimics the natural function of the heart and lungs, allowing the child's natural organs to heal.​

How ECMO Works

  • ECMO support removes some of the patient’s blood outside of the body (extracorporeal) to an artificial lung/heart machine.
  • The artificial lung/heart puts oxygen into the blood and removes carbon dioxide, similar to a healthy lung.
  • The artificial lung/heart then moves the enriched blood back to the body in this improved state.

Our ECMO machine can be used inside and outside of the operating room. We treat all ECMO patients in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. ECMO can be used for much longer periods of time than the traditional heart-lung bypass machines used during open-heart surgery.

The goal of ECMO is to continually provide the body with enough oxygen. When impaired, the heart or lungs need time to rest and heal, and ECMO takes over a large portion of the work. ECMO will not heal either of these organs, but it can provide time for the heart and lungs to recover—or the underlying condition to resolve. 

Reasons for ecmo


Many illnesses can cause the heart or lungs to become very sick. Here at Baylor Scott & White McLane Children’s Medical Center, some of our most frequent uses of ECMO have been due to influenza, pneumonia and heart failure. Sometimes after cardiac surgery, the heart may need extra time to recover. It is important to note that ECMO will not cure the heart or lung disease, but it can allow time for the heart and lungs to heal.

Surgeries and Procedures

The ECMO machine may be used as a bridge to surgeries and procedures, as follows:

  • Heart transplant and/or lung transplant. ECMO can continue to provide support for patients while they wait for a heart or lung to become available.
  • Cardiac surgery or procedure. ECMO can support the heart while the patient waits for cardiac surgery and/or placement of a different cardiac device.​

the ecmo team

We have a large, specially trained team dedicated to caring for ECMO patients.

  • Surgeon
  • Nephrologist
  • ECMO specialist
  • ECMO coordinator
  • Pediatric Intensivist
  • Registered Nurse
  • Respiratory Therapist
  • Physician Assistant
  • Child Life
  • Physical and Occupational Therapist
  • Pulmonary Intensive Care physician
  • Dietitian
  • Perfusionist​