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Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) Program

Providing exceptional cardio-respiratory support to critically-ill patients

Hennepin Healthcare’s Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) program received the Award for Excellence in Life Support – Platinum Level, the highest designation level given by the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO). This recognizes our efforts to provide exceptional bedside cardio-respiratory support to critically-ill patients utilizing ECMO. Hennepin Healthcare's rate of survival to hospital discharge exceeds the national average.

The success of the Hennepin Healthcare ECMO program is the result of a collaborative team of physicians across several disciplines including critical care medicine, cardiology, emergency medicine, surgery as well as specialists in intensive care nursing, physical and respiratory therapy and perfusion. Our team is capable of instituting ECMO within minutes or, under special circumstances, traveling to a referring center to help safely transport to Hennepin Healthcare.

What is ECMO?

What is ECMO?

Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) is a treatment in which a patient's heart and lungs can be supported temporarily. ECMO is often called a "rescue therapy" as it is usually initiated on critically-ill patients when all other methods of treatment have failed. ECMO can support the heart and/or lungs until the underlying problem has been resolved.

How does ECMO work?

How does ECMO work?

Read our story on how ECMO saved a patient's life by actually taking over the patient's heart and lung and filters and cleans the blood back into major organs. ECMO is lifesaving for patients who are experiencing acute respiratory or cardiac failure and are not improving with traditional life support methods. Read the full story on the Here for Life Blog.

What are the indications for ECMO?

Indications for ECMO - Respiratory

  • Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS)
  • Drowning
  • Smoke inhalation
  • Chest injury
  • Pneumonia
  • Severe asthma

Indications for ECMO - Cardio-Respiratory

  • Cardiogenic shock
  • Failure to wean from bypass in the operating room
  • Severe Hypothermia
  • Poisoning
  • Acute pulmonary embolism

Referring a Patient

Hennepin Healthcare is a regional referral center for both emergency and non-emergency/critical care cases and complex elective procedures. We can accept referrals and transfers of ECMO patients from hospitals throughout the region. We have the ability to transport critically ill patients by ground or air. Our highly skilled ECMO team can accompany the patient in transport. Access the physicians referrals page.