University of Maryland Medical Center Receives Prestigious Award for Heart and Lung Life Support Program

For immediate release: September 25, 2017


Bill Seiler | Office: 410-328-8919; Cell: 410-913-8464

BALTIMORE, Md. – An international group of health care institutions has acknowledged the high quality of a heart and lung life support program at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) during an award presentation in Baltimore.

The Gold Level Award for Excellence in Life Support from the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO), recognizes medical centers that have demonstrated extraordinary achievement in the use of a device called extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO). ECMO is a type of heart and lung bypass system which removes carbon dioxide from the blood and circulates oxygen throughout the body when the heart or the lungs cannot function on their own.

UMMC has one of the largest ECMO programs in the United States. In 2016, 170 adults and 12 children were treated with ECMO, including patients with separate cardiac or respiratory problems and critically ill patients requiring both heart and lung support. Again in 2016, 68 percent of all adult patients requiring ECMO were well enough to be discharged from UMMC. ELSO maintains a worldwide registry of hospitals using ECMO, which shows that in 2016, on average, only 45 percent of adult patients on ECMO survived to discharge.

UMMC has offered ECMO therapy to patients for about a dozen years, but the lifesaving possibilities of the technology emerged in 2009, during the H1N1 flu pandemic, when UMMC was designated a regional referral center for seriously ill flu patients. It became clear that the survival rate jumped if patients were put on ECMO as soon as possible.

The success of the UMMC ECMO program is the result of a collaborative team of physicians on the faculty of the University of Maryland School of Medicine across several disciplines including cardiothoracic surgery, emergency and trauma/critical care medicine as well as specialists in intensive care nursing, physical and respiratory therapy and perfusion experts.

In order to qualify for the ELSO award, a hospital must excel in several key areas, including attaining the highest standards of patient care, advanced ECMO education for all staff members, innovation and the use of specialized equipment. The award is an honorary designation and does not indicate a certification by ELSO.

The ELSO Award for Excellence in Life Support is valid for three years, until September 2020.  The award was presented during the 28th Annual ELSO Conference September 24-27, 2017 in Baltimore.