Pediatric Critical Care Transport

Children’s is one of only a handful of pediatric hospitals in the United States with special transport for children in heart failure. Our team is ready around-the-clock to transport even the youngest patients who depend on mechanical circulatory support.

Specialized Pediatric Heart Failure Transport at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh

Many hospitals are reluctant to move children on support devices, such as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), even within their own buildings. Moving young patients whose lives depend on mechanical heart support equipment involves risks.

Yet UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh has a unique transport service for children supported by ECMO or ventricular assist devices (VADs).

Our dedicated transport team is available 24/7 to bring the most critically ill children — even hundreds of miles — to Pittsburgh.

We've brought children to receive life-saving care at the Heart Institute at Children’s from cities such as:

  • Washington, D.C.
  • Buffalo, N.Y.
  • Richmond, Va.

Transport Services for Children in Heart Failure

Children’s unique transport method includes the use of equipment specially designed by our cardiology team to help move young patients safely. We can usually arrange transports within one day.

Our transport service includes:

  • Getting consent from your health insurer.
  • Planning and managing all aspects of your child's transport.
  • A specially trained staff to help with a safe transport to Children’s Hospital.

The mode of transport — helicopter, plane, or ambulance — depends on the length of the trip and weather conditions.

How long the transport process takes

Once the transport team arrives, it takes about 2-1/2 hours to move a child from the bedside into the aircraft or ambulance.

The total transport time — from leaving Children's Hospital to returning to Pittsburgh with the child — takes about 12 hours.

The Pediatric Heart Failure Transport Team

The ECMO transport team

The ECMO transport team consists of five highly skilled experts, including:

  • A pediatric intensivist
  • A cardiac nurse
  • A respiratory therapist
  • Others who manage logistics and transportation

The VAD transport team

The VAD transport team includes:

  • A pediatric intensivist
  • A cardiac nurse
  • A respiratory therapist
  • VAD engineers who oversee the mechanical operation and electrical supply of the VAD in transit

Contact the Heart Failure Transport Team

To refer a child for critical care specialty transport, doctors can call 412-692-5000. Children's transport team is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.