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Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine


The UAB Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) Program aims to staff multiple patients in need of ECMO treatment in a dedicated section of the cardiothoracic ICU with full support of an ECMO specialist 24/7.  


ECMO is a temporary mechanical support system that handles the function of the heart and/or lungs in patients with a variety of cardiac and respiratory problems. ECMO uses a pump that attaches with tubes to large blood vessels in the neck or groin. It is most commonly used for patients recovering from heart surgery or suffering from cardiac shock, awaiting a heart or lung transplant or heart-assistance device, or battling respiratory conditions such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome). The system also has proven effective among those with respiratory failure associated with trauma, poisoning, post-surgical complications, and pregnancy.

About Our Practice

Our program, the only available ECMO program in the state of Alabama, serves as a regional referral center capable of providing technical services and consultations related to ECMO. We are also involved in advanced research initiatives focused on therapies to support failing organ systems. In addition to supporting patients with influenza and ARDS, our program is involved in ambulatory ECMO as a bridge to lung transplantation, and provides support to patients with a diverse variety of cardiac procedures and disorders, including those with coronary artery disease and cardiogenic shock. The UAB ECMO program is proud to participate with the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO) and is involved in research including an international consortium of ECMO centers. Through its relationship with ELSO, UAB is part of a global alliance of ECMO centers.

In 2016, UAB received the Gold Level Award for Excellence for its use of ECMO from the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO). The award recognizes ECMO programs worldwide that distinguish themselves by establishing processes, procedures, and systems to promote excellence and exceptional care using ECMO and have achieved the highest levels of performance, innovation, satisfaction, and quality.

ECMO Family Education Booklet

Contacting the Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation Program

To contact the UAB ECMO Program, please visit https://www.uabmedicine.org/specialties/extracorporeal-membrane-oxygenation-ecmo/

Keith Wille, M.D., Adult ECMO Program, Medical Director