CHOC Children’s is the only institution in Orange County to offer extracorporeal life support (ECLS), also referred to as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). CHOC helped pioneer this lifesaving technology as one of the first institutions to use it more than 40 years ago. Today, we are one of 46 centers in the world to receive a three-year designation as an Extracorporeal Life Support Organization Center of Excellence and we provide the only ECLS transport unit in Orange County.
ECLS supports the heart and lungs by taking over the heart’s pumping function and the lung’s oxygen exchange until they can recover from injury, surgery or illness. When necessary, the machine can also be set up to support only the heart or only the lungs as needed.
ECLS at CHOC uses state-of-the-art centrifugal pumps with patients of all ages throughout CHOC Children’s, including in our operating suites, neonatal intensive care unit, pediatric intensive care unit, cardiovascular intensive care unit and emergency department. This latest form of ECLS technology requires less blood and has a lower risk of blood clotting than previous technology.
ECLS Team of Experts
Our dedicated ECLS team is composed of cardiothoracic and pediatric surgeons, intensive care and neonatal physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists and cardiopulmonary perfusionists who are experts in their fields and have received additional education to manage the complex equipment and medical needs of the children needing this life saving technology. Unlike other institutions, CHOC Children’s does not require the patient’s bedside nurse to monitor the ECLS equipment. A separate member of the ECLS team monitors the equipment around the clock thus allowing the child’s bedside nurse to concentrate solely on the patient while the ECLS expert monitors how the equipment is supporting the child. Moreover, the ECLS team is on call 24/7 and frequently is on standby for high-risk procedures in the cardiac catheterization lab and operating room should the need for ECLS occur.