The Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) program at Children's
Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) has been honored for the third time with
the prestigious Award for Excellence in Life Support by the
Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO), an international group
of health care professionals and scientists who evaluate hospital
treatment therapies for patients fighting complex cardiac disease and
A happy and healthy Haven Forner today. "Every laugh, smile, milestone and breath is because of CHLA," says mom Aja Forner. (Photo: Business Wire)
"This award once again points to the commitment of the organization and
our staff to providing the highest level of patient care," says James
Stein, MD, surgical director of ECMO and chief quality officer at
Children's Hospital Los Angeles. "The ability to provide this
state-of-the-art treatment for these highly complex patients is what
sets CHLA apart from other hospitals." To learn more about the CHLA ECMO
program, go here.
One of the largest efforts of its kind in California, the hospital's
ECMO program serves patients in the neonatal, pediatric and
cardiothoracic intensive care units. More than 1,100 children have
received lifesaving ECMO care at Children's Hospital Los Angeles since
the program's inception in the hospital's Newborn and Infant Critical
Care Unit (NICCU) in 1987. ECMO is a treatment that uses a pump to
circulate blood through an artificial lung outside the body and back
into the blood stream of an ill child, giving the heart and lungs a
chance to grow or heal while their work is handled by this external
system. It requires a high-functioning, multidisciplinary team,
including ECMO specialists at the patient's bedside, neonatologists,
intensivists, surgeons, perfusionists, nurses, respiratory therapists,
cardiologists and neuro-radiologists. In addition, the 24-hour
availability of a dedicated emergency transport team and the hospital's
blood bank are integral to the ECMO team. With the ability to coordinate
a wide range of pediatric subspecialists and services under one roof,
the ECMO program can treat the most difficult of cases. Typically used
as a last-resrt when the infant or child is not responding to standard
treatment, ECMO technology increases survival rate by up to 80 percent.
"At CHLA, we have dedicated ourselves to providing excellent care
through an incredible but challenging technology," says Lara
Nelson, MD, a specialist in pediatric critical care medicine and
medical director of the CHLA ECMO Program. "It is because of the team's
knowledge and level of experience that many children treated with this
technology are able to live healthy, normal lives."
One of the 1,100 children that the program has helped is Haven Forner,
who just celebrated her first birthday. At 5 months old, Haven was
airlifted to CHLA in December 2013 at the request of her doctor at Santa
Barbara Cottage Hospital, when her "perfect storm of germs"-pneumonia,
parainfluenza and adenovirus-worsened. "He had the foresight to know
Haven might need ECMO care and made it very clear that CHLA was where
Haven needed to be," says Aja Forner, Haven's mother.
On December 25, on a day that would have been Haven's first Christmas,
her lungs and heart were given the gift of complete rest. For the next
17 days, ECMO equipment helped Haven pump and oxygenate her blood, which
gave her lungs and heart the time to heal. "It was so hard for us to see
our baby in the condition she was in, but knowing Haven had two
incredible nurses caring for her around the clock, we knew she was in
great hands," says Forner.
Haven and her family spent two months in the Pediatric Intensive Care
Unit (PICU) at CHLA and she was fittingly named "The Miracle Baby."
"There is never a moment that goes by that we don't remember the odds
Haven beat," says Forner. "We are grateful for the gift we have been
given. Every laugh, smile, milestone and breath is because of CHLA."
"The CHLA ECMO program exemplifies how we do our best together to care
for our most fragile patients and provide hope for families in difficult
times," says Philippe
Friedlich, MD, MS Epi, MBA, interim center director & division
chief, Center for Fetal and Neonatal Medicine at Children's Hospital Los
To hear Dr. Friedlich discuss the CHLA ECMO program and listen to how
one patient was saved by ECMO at CHLA as an infant and grew up to become
a volunteer at the hospital, see this video
about CHLA's Las Madrinas Pediatric Simulation Research Laboratory.
The ELSO award is a high honor. It is included as one criterion in the
U.S. News & World Report Best Children's Hospitals survey, which
recognizes the country's top pediatric medical centers and demonstrates
to the health care community the high level of standards, unique
equipment and exceptional education of hospital staff. U.S. News has
ranked CHLA a top-five children's hospital three years in a row. "Our
ELSO Center for Excellence Award recognizes over 25 years of teamwork at
our institution and celebrates our pursuit of clinical, research and
education excellence," Friedlich says. "These attributes enable the ECMO
team to provide outstanding care to patients like Haven."
The award will be accepted by members of the ECMO team at the 25th
Anniversary ELSO Conference in September in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
more about Haven's story.
About Children's Hospital Los Angeles
Children's Hospital Los Angeles has been named the best children's
hospital on the West Coast and among the top five in the nation for
clinical excellence with its selection to the prestigious U.S. 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. Children's Hospital is also
one of America's premier teaching hospitals through its affiliation
since 1932 with the Keck School of Medicine of the University of
For more information, visit CHLA.org.
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