During ECMO: Visiting and my role as a family member

Visiting during extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)

You have an important part in your loved one’s care. Your familiar face and voice are important. We want you to spend time with your loved one.

To make sure it is safe to visit, please ask the nurse to see if it is all right to talk or touch them. Some patients get too excited when family visit and it can become unsafe. Your nurse can suggest helpful ways for you to interact with them.

The hospital room of an ECMO patient can fill up quickly with lots of equipment. The ECMO specialist and beside nurse can show you the best way to be close to your family member. For your safety and the safety of your loved one, we may ask that you avoid getting too close to the ECMO pump and equipment.

What you can do while visiting loved ones in the hospital

Please bring pictures of your loved one and family to put up in their room. Soft music can be helpful to a patient in the process of healing. If you need assistance setting up a music player, please let your nurse know.

TVs are in every room and you are more than welcome to watch their favorite TV shows with them.

Many patients simply enjoy holding your hand. Please check with the ICU nurse and ECMO specialist to make sure it’s okay.

Our patient library has books, DVDs, and CDs that can be checked out to pass the time. Our NICU rooms have a small radio with pre-selected CDs available for you to play for your baby.

Taking care of yourself as your loved ones recover

You will also need to take breaks and be sure that you’re getting enough sleep to help you through the long journey of recovery. Also be sure to eat a balanced diet and to drink plenty of water.

For moms who plan on breast feeding, you may pump and freeze your milk. Sometimes your child can still be fed a small amount of breast milk while on ECMO, through a special tube. Please reach out to your nurse if you have questions or need help with anything.

Many families create CarePages for their loved one. It is a website where you can post updates on to your loved ones. These reports help families communicate if they’re unable to visit.

Last reviewed: 
June 2017

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