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Inova L.J. Murphy Children's Hospital > Pediatric Services > Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)

Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)


teen boy looking thoughtful

Inova Children’s Hospital has expanded its Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) Program to now support the complex needs of newborns and children dealing with either cardiac failure or respiratory failure.

ECMO is a type of cardiopulmonary bypass that can provide temporary support of lungs, heart and other organs to patients who are failing conventional treatments. It has been used in the care of more than 75,000 patients. The majority of those patients were newborns with severe respiratory failure soon after birth. Success with these patients led to the expansion of ECMO support in older children and adults. Although Inova has supported children and neonates with heart disease and adults with ECMO, the service is expanding to include newborns outside of the congenital heart program as well.

Download our brochure and learn more about ECMOPDF icon


Meet our medical director


Heidi Dalton, MD
The ECMO team is led by Heidi Dalton, MD, the medical director for adult and pediatric ECLS at Inova Fairfax Medical Campus. Dr. Dalton is supported by neonatologists, pediatric surgeons, pediatric cardiac surgeons, pediatric intensivists, adult cardiac surgeons, adult cardiologists, adult pulmonologists and critical care physicians, and a team of perfusionists and ECMO specialists.



How is ECMO used


ECMO can be used to sustain the body while:

  • Heart or lungs heal
  • Heart or lungs are replaced (bridge or post-transplant)
  • Heart is repaired (before or after cardiac surgery or as a bridge to a long term support device or transplant)
  • Heart, lungs and other organs recover from severe infections or poisonings

About the program


The neonatal ECMO program is a combined effort of the Neonatal and Pediatric ICUs, housed in the newly expanded Inova Children’s Hospital. Our level IV NICU has 108 beds and features private rooms where families and their baby (or babies) can be together. The NICU staff is comprised of more than 20 neonatologists, 10 neonatal nurse practitioners and hundreds of highly trained nurses, allied health professionals and technicians. If an infant in respiratory or cardiac distress needs ECMO support, a combined team of neonatologists and pediatric critical care physicians are on hand 24/7 to provide this life-saving treatment. The team has more than 10 years of cardiac ECMO experience, supporting the congenital heart program’s most complex cases.

The new, expanded Inova Children’s Hospital opened its doors in January 2016 and is the only dedicated children’s hospital in Northern Virginia. Beyond housing the region’s only level 4 NICU and Pediatric ICU, Inova Children’s Hospital features a cardiac ICU, cardiac step-down unit, hematology/oncology unit and general medical/surgical unit. All patient rooms are private and designed with families in mind. An outdoor play park, parent lounges and play rooms on each floor, as well as a Ronald McDonald Family Room and A Ronald McDonald House on our Inova Fairfax Medical Campus and further contribute to a more home-like setting for patients and families.


Inova Children’s Hospital pediatric ambulance and One Call transport


Caring for children is special – and transporting infants and children who may be critically ill requires special care. Our transport system has recently upgraded to a new critical care ambulance, which can be configured to fit any combination of the following: two isolettes, two pediatric stretchers, one isolette and one stretcher, or transportation of up to 12 infants in case of emergency.

Equipped with leading-edge technology and staffed with dedicated pediatric and neonatal transport teams, this pediatric ambulance is built especially for kids. The Inova Children’s Hospital One Call Center is available 24 hours a day for all admission, transfer and transport needs at 1-877-900-9543.