Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) Transport

The Critical Care Transport Team at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh is one of a handful of pediatric hospitals to offer ECMO transport for children with failing hearts. Since 2008, patients have been brought to the hospital on ECMO from other cities such as Washington, D.C.; Buffalo, N.Y.; and Richmond, Va.

The ECMO transport team consists of five highly-skilled experts:

  • Physician from Children's Pediatric Intensive Care Unit
  • Flight nurse
  • Respiratory therapist
  • Perfusionist
  • ECMO technician

The mode of transport used for ECMO patients includes helicopter, fixed-wing plane, or ambulance and depends largely on the weather.

From the time the ECMO Transport team arrives at the patient's bedside to when they transfer the patient into the helicopter or ambulance, the process takes about 2 ½ hours. The entire transport time — from leaving the hospital to returning with the patient — is typically about 12½ hours.

Patients who are transported on ECMO may be candidates for a heart transplant or for longer term cardiac support with a ventricular assist device or heart pump — both of which are available at Children’s.

For critical care specialty transport, referring physicians may contact Children's ECMO transport team 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-877-PEDS-HRT (733-7478).