Never in the 24-year history of the UF Health extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, program had there been a transport of a pediatric patient on ECMO from an outside facility by our team. Thanks to the dedication, expertise and teamwork of those involved, our first pediatric ECMO transport earlier this year was a success.
“Everyone involved did an outstanding job,” said Timothy Bantle, R.R.T., UF Health Shands Hospital Respiratory Care supervisor and ECMO specialist. “This was no easy task and was many, many months in the making.”
Pediatric patients placed on ECMO are in critical condition. The machine drains the blood, oxygenates it and circulates it back into the patient’s body. It essentially mimics the natural function of a patient’s lungs, heart or both.
The ECMO and UF Health ShandsCair teams were instrumental in the transport process. The emergency flight crew is experienced at both on-the-scene and inter-facility transports. The advanced technology of their ground and air transportation, along with their diverse and expertly trained team members, enables the crew to transport patients with even the most complex conditions.
The unstable nature of a patient on ECMO paired with numerous factors that must be considered make ECMO transports uncommon. With the development of the Maquet Cardiohelp© transport machine, however, transporting these patients has become a possibility. Risk factors include the stability of the patient and the likelihood of a positive outcome after a transport.
All things considered, the team decided to conduct the transport. The pediatric patient was so critically ill that expert support from UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital was immediately required. Fortunately, we have a highly capable and qualified ECMO transport team to handle it.
Within five hours of the initial request, ShandsCair and ECMO experts were able to transport the patient from the other facility to UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital for expert care.
“The collaborative effort was seamless,” Bantle said. “From the driver to the nurse to the paramedic … everyone worked well together, and everyone played their part.”
Staccie Allen, ShandsCair director, explained that additional ECMO specialists are being trained to expand our ability to execute these complex transports.