Providing ECMO care at the highest level requires focused and adaptive collaboration among a multidisciplinary team of experts. You need experts who can prepare the ECMO circuit, connect it to the patient, maintain it 24/7, change it when it fails and disconnect it when the patient no longer needs ECMO. The persons who do this are called ECMO specialists; they are critical care nurses, respiratory therapists and cardiac perfusionists who choose to specialize in ECMO. You also need surgeons, both cardiac and pediatric, to gain access to the large blood vessels to place cannulas (catheters) large enough to permit the blood to be circulated outside the body. You need physicians who can help manage the cannulated patient and all the complications that arise while on ECMO, and you need experts in bleeding, clotting and anticoagulation to help keep the patient safe while on ECMO.

It is not enough to count on the existence of these experts; they must work well together. One member of an ECMO team is no more important than another. All are needed for a successful ECMO run. In fact, problems arise if one team member believes they are more expert than their colleagues, engendering conflict that is sure to impact a patient’s care.

We are very proud of the ECMO team we have assembled at TCH and would like to introduce you to them below.