UAB ECMO program wins gold

UAB’s program for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, has won a Gold Level Award for Excellence.

ecmo 2UAB's ECMO team includes specially trained perfusionists and nurses at the patient's bedside.The ECMO program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital has received a Gold Level Award for Excellence for its use of ECMO — extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. This lifesaving procedure provides long-term breathing and heart support for patients with a multitude of conditions, ranging from severe lung disease or trauma to heart failure.

The Extracorporeal Life Support Organization bestowed the Gold Level Award for Excellence in Life Support to UAB Hospital, one of the leading institutions in the nation in the use of ECMO. The UAB ECMO program is led by Charles Hoopes, M.D., professor of cardio-thoracic surgery in the Department of Surgery within the School of Medicine.

ECMO is a technology using a portable heart/lung bypass machine originally developed for heart surgery. ECMO takes on the function of the heart and lungs by routing the patient’s blood into the machine where carbon dioxide is removed and oxygen is added. The blood is then pumped back into the body.

The ELSO award recognizes ECMO programs worldwide that distinguish themselves by establishing processes, procedures and systems to promote excellence and exceptional care in ECMO. This recognition is awarded to centers that reach the highest level of performance, innovation, satisfaction and quality.

“The ELSO award signifies to patients and families a commitment to exceptional patient care. It also demonstrates to the health care community an assurance of high quality standards, specialized equipment and supplies, defined patient protocols, and advanced education of all staff members,” said Anthony Patterson, senior vice president for Inpatient Services at UAB Hospital. “We are grateful to our physician faculty, hospital staff and hospital leadership for the tremendous roles they have played in creating a very successful and nationally renowned UAB ECMO program.”

UAB has developed ECMO protocols for varied conditions such as severe flu, carbon monoxide poisoning and rare autoimmune diseases. It is often used as a bridge to transplant in cases of severe lung disease or heart failure.

Read these stories of UAB ECMO successes:

Gifts of life: Two families share joy and pain after rare double-lung and heart transplant

Chicago teen who arrived at UAB Hospital on Christmas Eve set to go home after remarkable recovery

UAB uses ECMO to save carbon monoxide victim

UAB’s last-resort therapy saving lives during flu epidemic