TUCSON, Ariz. – The ECMO program at The University of Arizona Medical Center – University Campus and Diamond Children’s received the prestigious, ELSO Award for Excellence in Life Support from ELSO (Extracorporeal Life Support Organization). 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 University of Arizona Medical Center – University Campus (which includes Diamond Children’s) is the only hospital in Tucson with an ECMO program.
ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) is an advanced technology that provides heart and lung functions to a patient whose heart and/or lungs are so damaged they are unable to work unassisted. It typically is used to support a patient awaiting surgery, or gives the patient’s organs time to heal from surgery or disease.
Pediatric intensivist Robyn Meyer, MD, associate professor, the University of Arizona Department of Pediatrics, is the medical director of the program. “Our ECMO program is one of the larger ones in the nation,” Dr. Meyer says. “We can assist newborns to adults who are so sick they cannot be supported by the usual means.”
Eleven-year-old Addison Rerecich was on ECMO for 93 days at Diamond Children’s as she battled a bacterial infection that ultimately destroyed her lungs. She recently underwent a double-lung transplant, and is now off ECMO and in recovery. “Without ECMO, Addison would not have survived while waiting for donor lungs,” says her mom, Tonya Rerecich. “ECMO kept Addison alive. It’s an amazing thing!”
“The ELSO Award signifies to patients and families a commitment to exceptional patient care,” says Steven A. Conrad, MD, chair of the ELSO Steering Committee. “It also demonstrates to the health-care community an assurance of high-quality standards, specialized equipment and supplies, defined patient protocols and advanced education for all staff members.” The ELSO Award of Excellence is recognized by U.S. News and World Report and Parents magazine as one criterion for top institutions.
“This type of advanced medical care requires tremendous resources and a high level of expertise,” says Andreas Theodorou, MD, chief medical officer for The University of Arizona Medical Center – University Campus and Diamond Children’s. “I am grateful to Dr. Meyer and her team for making this available, not only for those in Tucson, but our entire Southwest region."
The multidisciplinary ECMO team includes:
· Cristina Smith, MD, assistant professor, UA Department of Surgery; oversees the adult side of the ECMO program.
· Paul Nolan, PharmD, professor, UA Department of Pharmacy; coordinates anti-coagulation.
· Deborah Novak MD, assistant professor, UA Department of Pathology; in charge of the blood bank.
· Neonatologists who assist with newborns.
· Chris Mogan, MS, CCP, ECMO coordinator and other perfusionists.
· Misty Duden, RN, Jeanne Scott, RN, and Yukie Peterson, RN;advanced specialists.
· Staff members of Diamond Children’s PICU and 4NW.
On behalf of the ECMO team, Dr. Meyer will accept the award on Saturday, Sept. 17, in Scottsdale, at the 22nd Annual ELSO Conference.