The shortage of dedicated pediatric extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) centers and the expanding indications for pediatric ECMO necessitate a regional program for transport of ECMO-supported patients. Data about feasibly and safety of pediatric ECMO transport are scarce. Our aim is to describe our experience with a pediatric ECMO reach-out program and review pertinent literature. Demographic, clinical, and outcome data were collected retrospectively from the charts of all patients cannulated onto ECMO at referring centers and transported to our center from 2003 to 2018. Similar data were recorded for patients who were referred for ECMO support from within the hospital. The cohort included 80 patients cannulated at 17 referring centers. The transport team included a senior pediatric cardiac surgeon and an ECMO specialist. All transfers but one were done by special emergency medical service ambulance. No major complications or deaths occurred during transport, and all patients were stable upon arrival to our unit. Mortality was lower in the ECMO reach-out cohort than in-house patients referred for ECMO support. This is the first study from Israel and one of the largest to date describing a dedicated pediatric ECMO transport program. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation transport appears to be feasible and safe when conducted by a small, highly skilled mobile team. Successful reach-out program requires open communication between the referring physician and the accepting center. As survival correlates with ECMO volume, maintaining a large ECMO center with 24/7 retrieval capabilities may be the best strategy for pediatric mechanical circulatory support program.
- cardiac failure
- extracorporeal membrane oxygenation
- respiratory failure