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What is extracorporeal life support?

When children develop cardiovascular or respiratory failure that does not respond to conventional therapies including mechanical ventilation and medications, extracorporeal life support (ECLS) is critical. ECLS is a form of heart and/or lung bypass, and it may be needed in children of all ages, including newborns with pulmonary hypertension and older children with congenital or acquired heart disease or severe forms of respiratory failure.

Our approach

The PICU at Cohen Children’s Medical Center is a nationally recognized program that provides the highest level of ECLS. We have received the national Extracorporeal Life Support Organization’s Award of Excellence since 2013, a distinction given to those programs that exceed the national benchmark outcomes consistently. Our team consists of specialized pediatric general and cardiothoracic surgeons, pediatric intensivists, perfusionists, pediatric nurse specialists, pediatric critical care nurses and respiratory therapists. We provide ECLS to approximately 15 children each year, who are referred from all over the region. The program recently celebrated its 20-year anniversary, where our survivors of ECLS and their families gathered with our team to celebrate the successes of the program and the many lives that have benefited from it.

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