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Winner of Excellence in Life Support Award

Newborns with underdeveloped lungs often have breathing difficulties. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is a sophisticated heart and lung machine that ensures newborns receive the life-saving oxygen they need to promote long-term quality of life.

UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital is among an elite set of international centers to receive the Excellence in Life Support Award by the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization. This designation is awarded to centers with processes, procedures and systems in place that promote exceptional care in extracorporeal membrane oxygenation.

First in Region to Offer ECMO

ECMO provides life-giving oxygen to newborns. ECMO therapy procedure infuses oxygen into a baby’s bloodstream and circulates it—essentially doing the work for immature heart and lungs. This gives newborns with lung problems extra time to grow or heal. ECMO therapy can also be used to treat respiratory problems like pulmonary hypertension and pneumonia.

ECMO therapy was developed in the 1970s and has been a significant lifesaver for sick babies. University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) was one the first U.S. regional centers—and the first in the Cleveland area—to offer ECMO. Since then, our pediatric pulmonologists have gained decades of experience providing high-volume ECMO treatments.

The pioneering work and research of our physicians also led us to be an early adopter of inhaled nitric oxide, which has become an important treatment for certain newborns with breathing problems. ECMO therapy, however,remains an effective treatment for certain babies with distressed lungs.