ECMO Therapy: Time for Healing

CHKD offers ECMO therapy – extracorporeal membrane oxygenation – to pediatric patients who have a life-threatening heart or lung disease. CHKD is the only hospital in Hampton Roads with the ability to offer this highly specialized therapy to children.

ECMO takes over the work of the lungs, or the both the heart and lungs, to support extremely ill children while other treatments help them recover from serious, but reversible, medical conditions. ECMO gives patients the time they need for other treatments to start working and help them get better.

ECMO uses a pump to circulate blood from the patient’s body through an artificial lung – removing carbon dioxide, adding oxygen, and then returning it to the body.

At CHKD, patients who benefit from this therapy range from newborns with life-threatening circulatory problems to children fighting pneumonia or those who need cardiac surgery. Children may need ECMO therapy for a few days or for a few weeks. During their therapy, they remain under the care of CHKD’s pediatric intensive care unit.


Our team of ECMO specialists all receive specific training in the care of infants and children receiving ECMO therapy. ECMO specialists include perfusionists, registered nurses, and respiratory therapists.

ELSO Award

ECMO - ELSO Silver AwardCHKD’s ECMO program has earned the Silver ELSO Award for its ability to demonstrate an exceptional commitment to evidence-based processes and quality measures, staff training and continuing education, patient satisfaction, and ongoing clinical care. The award, given by the international nonprofit Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO), designates CHKD’s ECMO program as a Silver Level Center on the Path to Excellence in Life Support.