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UCLA multidisciplinary team receives Award of Excellence for ECMO services


CU-ECMO ServicesThe UCLA ECMO team has been recognized with an Award for Excellence in Life Support for its extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) services. UCLA was honored by the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO), an international consortium of healthcare professionals dedicated to developing and evaluating novel therapies for support of failing organ systems. The award recognizes programs that “reach the highest level of performance, innovation, satisfaction and quality.”

The UCLA ECMO team includes perfusionists, nurses and physicians in a variety of disciplines who provide a complete range of services in support of patient care in all areas of cardiac, thoracic, pulmonary and vascular medicine. The service provides vital support for the largest heart/lung transplant program on the west coast, and for leading programs in cardiac catheterization, endovascular grafting and pediatric cardiology, among others.

About ECMO

As a short-term treatment that replaces the function of the heart and lungs, ECMO can be used in patients who, for any of a number of reasons, are not able to meet their own needs for circulating oxygenated blood and are not responding to conventional treatments. ECMO can allow time for a patient’s heart and lungs to recover sufficient function to supply their body’s need for oxygenated blood. It can also serve as a bridge therapy to more definitive treatment options. ECMO will support the physiological needs of the patient, while long-term treatment options are evaluated by a multi-disciplinary team and discussed with the patient and family members.

For example, some heart failure patients are treated with ventricular assist devices (VADs) as an intermediate therapy on a path that may ultimately lead to heart transplantation. When the decision isn’t immediately clear to physicians and family members that transplantation is the desired option, ECMO can provide time for careful evaluation before committing to that course of treatment with a costly VAD implantation. ECMO can relieve the pressure of making an immediate decision and help family members make a choice with which they are most comfortable.

Among newborns, ECMO is most often used in cases of severe respiratory failure and primary pulmonary hypertension. These usually result from meconium aspiration syndrome, respiratory distress syndrome, group B streptococcal sepsis and congenital diaphragmatic hernia.

ECMO services at UCLA

The UCLA ECMO team is part of UCLA’s circulatory support service, which provides advanced treatments to critically ill patients who are unable to adequately supply their bodies with oxygenated blood. The ECMO team includes cardiothoracic surgeons, nephrologists, cardiologists, neurologists, intensivists, pulmonologists and other medical specialists along with specially trained nurses and board-certified perfusionists who have advanced training in physiology, pharmacology and anatomy along with their specialized training in perfusion technology.

A multidisciplinary group meets regularly to discuss cases and review outcomes. The UCLA group collects data to benchmark its results against international figures and to identify ways to further enhance care. The team educates and assesses its members to ensure that high standards are maintained.

Providing compassionate and empathetic care is important at a time when family members are dealing with serious health issues in a child or loved one. UCLA ECMO team members take time to explain the treatment they are providing and offer to answer any questions family members may have. They strive as much as possible to put patients and family members at ease while providing the highest level care for their patients.

UCLA ECMO team excels while treating the most challenging cases

To be successful in treating the most complex cases, and to provide the best possible care for all patients, the UCLA ECMO team relies on the talents of a diverse group of individuals. The group was recently recognized with an Award of Excellence from the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization.

“The ELSO Award of Excellence recognizes the superb cardio-vascular care UCLA surgeons, perfusionists, nurses and others provide to some of our most critically ill patients,” says Richard J. Shemin, M.D., professor and chief, UCLA Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery.

Kim De La Cruz, CCP, director of perfusion services at UCLA adds, “Our surgeons are leaders in their field and they challenge us to become leaders in support of ECMO.”

Team Members

Richard J. Shemin, M.D.
Chair of Cardiothoracic Surgery
Medical Director of ECMO Program

Robb MacLellan, M.D.
Medical Director of Mechanical Circulatory
Support Program Associate Chief of Cardiology

Murray Kwon, M.D.
Medical Co-Director for ECMO CTICU
Assistant Professor of Adult Cardiothoracic Surgery

Robert Kelly, M.D.
Co-Medical Director for ECMO PICU Pediatric
Associate Medical Director of Pediatric Transport

Meena Garg, M.D.
Medical Director NICU
Co-Medical Director for ECMO NICU
Professor of Neonatology

Nancy Satou 
Director of Clinical Databases & Infomatics
ECMO Co-Coordinator

Kim De La Cruz 
Director, Perfusion Services;
ECMO Coordinator

Tony Chalfant 
Priniciple Perfusionist ECMO Co-Coordinator

Doug Dragomer 
Pediatric Specialist ECMO Co-Coordinator

Stuart Grant 
ECMO Educator Senior Perfusionist

Jessica Samson
Perfusionist ECMO Co-Coordinator

Contact Information
UCLA Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery
10083 LeConte Ave.
Los Angeles, California 90095
(310) 267-8675

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