How did ECMO get started?

How Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) has developed

The first heart and lung machine was used for heart surgery in 1965 by Dr. Gibbon. Modifications were made to this system in order to support the heart and lungs for a prolonged period of time.

Dr. Robert Bartlett is known around the world as the Father of ECMO for his pioneering work in developing ECMO.

In the early 1970s ECMO research began with adults, but quickly turned to newborns with breathing problems. Dr. Bartlett successfully treated the first newborn in 1975 in Irvine, California. He continued to develop ECMO and brought the program to the University of Michigan in 1980.

Eventually ECMO expanded to the pediatric population and then to adults.

ECMO at UI Hospitals & Clinics

The University of Iowa is one of the few centers that offers ECMO to all populations, neonates, children, and adults. Our first neonatal ECMO case was in 1995 and our first adult case was in 1997.

We are dedicated to caring for your loved one and we hope this information is helpful during this difficult time.

Last reviewed: 
June 2017

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