August 15, 2023

Pediatric ECMO program receives top recognition from the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization

Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt’s receives top designation by the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization

For the past 15 years Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt’s heart-lung support program has achieved the highest level of recognition available from the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO).

This year, the program, the first in Tennessee to use extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), garnered the premium designation bestowed by the society — the Platinum Level of Excellence in Life Support by ESLO.

“Being recognized at the Platinum Level validates the pediatric ECMO team’s continued leadership in the ECMO community worldwide,” said Daphne Hardison, RN, MSN, CES-P, manager of ECMO at Monroe Carell. “ECMO specialists worked together to showcase our commitment to a comprehensive quality program.”

ECMO is a life-sustaining mechanical system that temporarily takes over for the heart and lungs of critically ill patients, allowing their organs to rest and recover by removing carbon dioxide from the blood, replacing it with lifesaving oxygen, and returning it to the patient’s circulatory system.

Vanderbilt was the first to use this technology in Tennessee in 1989, with the first patient placed on ECMO in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. The pediatric program is one of the largest and most successful programs in the world.

“The ELSO Platinum Award of Excellence establishes the ECMO program at Monroe Carell as one of the best in the world,” said Brian Bridges, MD, associate professor of Pediatrics and Anesthesiology and medical director of ECMO and the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Monroe Carell. “This award speaks to the dedication of our ECMO team to provide the highest level of support to our most critically ill children.”

The ELSO award is given only to those ECMO programs worldwide that reach the highest level of performance, innovation, satisfaction and quality, and that distinguish themselves by having processes, procedures and systems in place that promote excellence and exceptional care.

“I am so proud of our ECMO program for this achievement,” said Melissa Danko, MD, associate professor of Pediatric Surgery and surgical director of ECMO at Monroe Carell. “This is a testament of the level of commitment and dedication shown by each and every member of our team. The patients we treat are the sickest in the hospital, and we strive to provide the best care for these children and their families.”

ELSO is an international consortium of health care professionals and scientists dedicated to the development and evaluation of new therapies for supporting failing organ systems.

The ELSO Award of Excellence, good for three years, is recognized by U.S. News & World Report and Parents magazine as one of the criteria used in ranking top institutions.

The Children’s Hospital ECMO team consists of a broad array of health professionals, including ECMO specialists, nurses, respiratory therapists, physical, speech and occupational therapists, pharmacists, nutritionists, intensive care unit physicians and surgeons.