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Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC Achieves International Recognition for Life-Saving ECMO Treatment

PITTSBURGH, Oct. 12, 2009 – Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC is one of a select group of centers in the world to be honored with an “Excellence in Life Support Award” from the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO), an international consortium of centers offering ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) for support of failing organ systems in infants, children and adults.

ECMO is one of the most advanced forms of life support available to patients experiencing acute failure of the cardio-respiratory system. ECMO allows time for the patient’s lungs and/or heart to heal by using a heart-lung machine to oxygenate and purify the blood outside the body over a period of time.

Since the ECMO program at Children’s Hospital supported its first patient with ECMO in 1979, it has progressed to one of the nation’s leading ECMO centers, supporting nearly 45 patients a year. The program, which receives patients from throughout the world for Childrens’ cardiothoracic transplantation expertise, is led by Peter Wearden, M.D., Ph.D., cardiothoracic surgeon and director of pediatric mechanical cardiopulmonary support at Children’s; Kent Kelly, director of perfusion services, ECMO and the cardiac catheterization laboratory; and Bradley Kuch, ECMO program coordinator.

The ELSO award recognizes centers that demonstrate exceptional commitment to evidence-based processes and quality measures, staff training and continuing education, patient satisfaction, and ongoing clinical research. Children’s Hospital is one of only 55 centers in the world to receive this award since ELSO’s inception in 2006.

“Children’s Hospital has grown into one of the leading pediatric centers in the world for patients in need of life-saving heart or lung transplants. However, patients in heart or lung failure can be too sick to undergo transplantation, which is when ECMO can become crucial to their survival,” said Dr. Wearden, who also is an assistant professor of cardiothoracic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “Children’s Hospital was one of the early pioneers in the use of ECMO and this recognition is a testament to our team’s contributions to improvements in the use of ECMO, particularly for children in need of live-saving mechanical support.”

For more information about Children’s ECMO Program or its Heart Center, please visit

About Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC

Renowned for its outstanding clinical services, research programs and medical education, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC has helped establish the standards of excellence in pediatric care. From ambulatory care to transplantation and cardiac care, talented and committed pediatric experts care for infants, children and adolescents who make more than 500,000 visits to Children’s and its many neighborhood locations each year.

Children’s also has been named consistently to several elite lists of pediatric health care facilities, including ranking 10th among children’s hospitals (FY 2008) in funding provided by the National Institutes of Health, and is named one of the best pediatric hospitals in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.

About Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO)

ELSO is a consortium of health care professionals and scientists dedicated to the development and evaluation of novel therapies for support of failing organ systems. The organization promotes ongoing research into the most effective treatment methods by maintaining a registry of patients receiving extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) and providing educational programs for member centers and the broader medical and lay communities. More than 115 international ECMO centers are members of ELSO, which is headquartered in Ann Arbor, Mich.

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