Tiny Baby Marks Big Milestone for California’s Largest ECMO Program at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

Two Day Old Boy Becomes 1000th Patient at Children’s Hospital Treated with Life-Saving Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) Technology 

Media Contact: Lyndsay LaGree
Office: 323-361-4121
Email: llagree@chla.usc.edu

[LOS ANGELES] November 9, 2011 - On Sun., Oct. 30, an Emergency Transport Helicopter rushed two-day-old Dorion Freeman to the Newborn and Infant Critical Care Unit (NICCU) at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Suffering from severe respiratory failure, Dorion was diagnosed with Meconium Aspiration Syndrome, a serious condition in which a newborn inhales meconium and amniotic fluid into the lungs during delivery. To save his life, specialists placed him on Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation, or ECMO. 

Home to the largest ECMO Program in the state, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles ECMO team treats an average of 40 patients annually. Dorion is the 1,000th patient treated by the ECMO Program at Children’s Hospital.

“ECMO is an incredible technology that has saved countless lives through the support of hundreds of healthcare providers here at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles,” said Philippe Friedlich, MD, Children’s Hospital NICCU medical director and associate professor of pediatrics and surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California,. “For the past quarter of a decade, we have worked very hard to provide this level of support. Because of this technology and our dedicated ECMO team, Dorion will go home in the next few weeks and be able to live a healthy, normal life.”

Similar to a heart-lung bypass machine used for open-heart surgery, ECMO is a heart-lung bypass system that takes over circulatory and respiratory functions in infants whose systems fail. It is a life-saving surgical and medical treatment for a variety of issues, such as meconium aspiration syndrome, sepsis, respiratory distress syndrome, persistent pulmonary hypertension, pneumonia, or a congenital diaphragmatic hernia. 

Typically used as a last-resort when the infant is not responding to standard treatment, ECMO technology increases survival rate by up to 80 percent. 

ECMO requires two staff specialists at the patient’s bedside 24 hours a day, seven days a week, as well as a team consisting of neonatologists, pediatric surgeons, perfusionists, ECMO specialists, cardiologists, neuro-radiologists and pediatric emergency transport specialists. Children’s Hospital Los Angeles houses a wide range of pediatric subspecialists under one roof, enabling the ECMO Program to treat the most difficult of cases.

Established in 1987, the ECMO Program at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles will celebrate its 25th anniversary in January.  It remains the largest referral center in Southern California and surrounding states for the treatment of neonatal conditions requiring ECMO support.

Thanks to the technology and a team of highly specialized physicians in one of the nation’s top NICCU’s, Dorion was taken off ECMO on Friday and is expected to make a full recovery. 

About Children's Hospital Los Angeles

Children's Hospital Los Angeles has been named the best children’s hospital in California and among the best in the nation for clinical excellence with its selection to the prestigious US News & World Report Honor Roll.  Children’s Hospital is home to The Saban Research Institute, one of the largest and most productive pediatric research facilities in the United States, is one of America's premier teaching hospitals and has been affiliated with the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California since 1932.

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