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About extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) involves using highly advanced equipment to act as a child’s temporary heart and lungs. ECMO is usually not a definitive treatment in itself; rather it’s used as a bridge to oxygenate the baby until the child can recover from their illness or doctors can perform lifesaving treatments.

Conditions that might require ECMO are congenital diaphragmatic hernia, neonatal diseases which lead to pulmonary hypertension (such as meconium aspiration), and complex cardiac surgery. Sepsis and cardiac failure, which can occur during particularly bad flu seasons, can also be a rare indication for ECMO, and may allow the child time to heal during the most acute phases of the illness.

Our approach to treatment

Cohen Children’s is a trailblazer when it comes to providing extracorporeal life support for babies and children in the New York area. We are the first ECMO center on Long Island, and the second oldest center in New York state.

Our multidisciplinary extracorporeal life support program is run in partnership with the highly experienced NICU, PICU and pediatric surgery teams. The pediatric surgeons are responsible for the complex surgery to get the children on ECMO, known as ECMO cannulation. We currently have the largest pediatric surgical staff in New York, and each member of the team is trained in the most advanced forms of cannulation. As a result, we can provide leading-edge ECMO services 24/7, and maintain the ability to have multiple babies on ECMO simultaneously.

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