Six-Day-Old is Hospital's First for ECMO Transport
A six-day-old baby from Emporia, Kansas was the first to travel to St. Louis Children’s Hospital while receiving ECMO. ECMO is an advanced treatment that uses a pump and oxygenator to deliver oxygen to vital organs – doing the work in place of failing heart and lungs.
Almost immediately after his birth on November 11, the baby had difficulty breathing. Doctors at the family’s home hospital discovered only one side of his body was receiving oxygenated blood from his heart. He was airlifted to a pediatric hospital in Kansas City, where the medical team found and removed a clot in his aortic valve. He was just two days old.
The very next day, his pulmonary function continued to decline. Without another option, he was placed on ECMO, which is a temporary solution while a child’s condition stabilizes and improves.
St. Louis Children’s Hospital, the most active heart transplant center in the region, had just launched its ECMO transport program on November 1. It is believed fewer than 6 other hospitals in the nation offer pediatric-trained ECMO transport.
A physician, two nurses and a perfusionist accompanied the newborn on the fixed-wing flight from Kansas City to St. Louis on Saturday, November 17.
By Monday, the newborn had been placed on a Berlin heart, which is a ventricular assist device used to support a child until a donor heart becomes available.
“As a leading transplant center, the hospital’s respiratory and heart failure population has substantially increased, along with growing numbers of patients on ventricular assist devices and paracorporeal lung assist devices,” said Celeste Capers, MD, medical director, Transport Service. “Patients like these may require ECMO prior to definitive care, and currently only a handful of centers across the country provide pediatric ECMO transport.”The ECMO Transport service was made possible by a generous donor to the St. Louis Children's Hospital Foundation.