UW Health now offering ECMO treatment for kids as young as 13

MADISON, Wis. — UW Health says ECMO technology to treat cardiac arrest will now be available for children as young as 13.

The health care provider is partnering with first responder agencies in the Madison area to help them recognize when a child with a near-adult-sized body would qualify for the ECMO when experiencing cardiac arrest. The training would teach EMS personnel how to prepare the child for the ECMO procedure once they get to the emergency department.

The ECMO technology works by acting like the patient’s heart, keeping blood flowing even when the heart stops. Doctors say it can help prevent neurological damage from cardiac arrest.

In kids, cardiac arrest could happen as a result of things like hypothermia, accidental overdose of medications, or arrhythmia.

UW Health says it recently conducted field training with Sun Prairie EMS using a sophisticated mannequin to represent a pediatric patient in cardiac arrest in the village of Windsor. EMS crews treated the child mannequin and prepped it for ECMO treatment before transporting it to University Hospital, where a team of doctors and nurses were waiting.

“Without the training for our emergency medical technicians on the scene, ECMO at the hospital wouldn’t be possible,” Sun Prairie EMS chief Brian Goff said. “It’s partnerships like our relationship with UW Health and the trust these training sessions build that facilitate this life-saving work.”