ECMO in the ER
2-month-old Noya’s life was saved when she was connected to the ECMO machine while still in the ER. She had arrived at Schneider Children’s a few minutes earlier with respiratory distress and continued vomiting. When her heart suddenly collapsed, the team in the ER began prolonged resuscitation.
Pediatric cardiac surgeons, Dr. George Frenkel, Director of the Cardiothoracic Surgery Unit, and Dr. Gabi Amir, diagnosed a viral infection in the heart muscle which led to the severe dysfunction of the heart. The infant was connected to the ECMO machine (Extra Corporeal Membrane Oxygenation) which replaces the function of the heart. This was the second time where an infant was connected to the machine while still in the ER at Schneider Children’s because of the fear that her small heart would not sustain her transfer to the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit.
The infant remained connect to the machine for a week while her heart recovered. She subsequently recovered and was discharged, but will remain in follow-up care by the cardiac team at Schneider Children’s.
Dr. Einat Birk, Director of the Institute of Pediatric Cardiology, stated that “the infant arrived at the hospital in a critical condition. I have no doubt that her life was saved due to the alertness of her parents, her transfer to a hospital equipped with an ECMO machine, and her speedy connection to it while still in the ER. I wish to point out that it is very rare for the heart muscle to be affected due to a viral infection.”
Noya’s parents’, Mezi and Chaim said that “we are deeply grateful to the dedicated team in the ER at Schneider Children’s. Through their efforts, we can hug our Noya again.”
In 2013, a 3-month-old critically ill infant was transferred to the ER at Schneider Children’s. She too was connected to the ECMO machine while in the ER and transferred later to the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. This was the first time in the country that a child was connected to an ECMO machine in the ER rather than in the intensive care unit.