Extracorporeal Life Support (ECLS)
or Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO)

ECLS involves the artificial support of lung and/or heart function using a machine that oxygenates a patient’s blood outside the body and returns it using a pump, thus allowing the heart and lungs to rest.

There are two types of ECLS: veno-arterial (VA) ECLS removes blood from a vein and returns it to an artery under high pressure to support the pumping function of a failing heart. During VA ECLS, oxygen can also be added to the blood to support lung function if needed.  Veno-venous (VV) ECLS or ECMO involves both removal and return of blood through the veins, usually near the heart, and is used to support lung function only.

ECLS devices have improved significantly over the last few decades and some devices are now light enough to be carried by one person and can be easily transported in an ambulance or helicopter, making it possible to transport patients while on ECLS.

ECMO is commonly used in the following situations:

  • Heart and/or lung failure despite usual medical therapy to allow heart and/or lung to recover.
  • As a bridge option to further treatment such as heart assist device or left ventricular assist device (LVAD)
  • As a bridge to heart or lung transplantation

The Community Regional Medical Center (CRMC) multidisciplinary ECLS team was created in affiliation with the University of California San Francisco-Fresno medical program (UCSF-Fresno) to provide this unique and highly specialized treatment to the central valley of California.

Patients have the best outcomes when ECMO candidates are evaluated in a multidisciplinary team setting.  To better serve our patients in the Central Valley, we structured our ECLS team to provide a cohesive network of health care professionals from different disciplines. Thus, in August 2016 UCSF Fresno ECLS team was organized to include the following professionals.

  1. Medical intensivists trained in in the use of ECLS
  2. Cardiovascular surgeons
  3. ECLS trained nurses
  4. Perfusionists
  5. Respiratory therapists
  6. Physical therapists
  7. Social workers
  8. Pharmacists

The team approach has improved outcomes related to ECLS which are comparable with international average and standards. This team is the only dedicated ECLS team service in the central valley of California. We typically receive more than 70 ECMO referral annually.  

For Referral or more information please contact transfer center at 559-459-7337
Community regional medical center (CRMC)
2823 Fresno St, Fresno, CA 93721
Phone: (559) 459-6000


Man Survives Heart Attack with ECMO Therapy

Pregnant COVID-19 Patient

A woman pregnant with twins fights for her life after contracting the coronavirus. Find out what specialized treatment and team saved her life...


ECMO Therapy for COVID-19 and Pregnancy

Being diagnosed with Valley Fever


Local Valley professor saved by ECMO medical team