NEWS | July 7, 2014

UC Davis Children's Hospital receives Excellence in Life Support Award


UC Davis Children's Hospital has received the Excellence in Life Support Award from the international Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO) for its Extracorporeal Life Support Program. The program provides lifesaving support for failing organ systems in infants, children and, in some cases, adults.

Photo of ELSO logo

The Excellence in Life Support Award recognizes centers worldwide that demonstrate an exceptional commitment to evidence-based processes and quality measures, staff training and continuing education, patient satisfaction and ongoing clinical care. UC Davis Children's Hospital also received this award in 2012.

The ELSO Award signifies to patients and families a commitment to exceptional patient care. It also demonstrates to the health-care community an assurance of high-quality standards, specialized equipment and supplies, defined patient protocols and advanced education of all staff members.

Extracorporeal life support (ECLS), also known as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation or ECMO, is one of the most advanced forms of life support available to patients experiencing acute failure of the cardiac and respiratory systems. The ECLS machine does the work of the heart and lungs, artificially oxygenating the blood and returning it to the body, allowing the patient's heart and lungs to rest and heal.

Recipients of the Excellence in Life Support Award are designated as Centers of Excellence for having demonstrated extraordinary achievement in the following categories:

• Excellence in promoting the mission, activities and vision of ELSO

• Excellence in patient care by using the highest-quality measures, processes and structures based on evidence

• Excellence in training, education, collaboration and communication that supports ELSO guidelines and contributes to a healing environment

At UC Davis Medical Center, ECLS is performed by a team of highly skilled physicians, nurses and cardiovascular perfusionists trained to provide extracorporeal life support. All patients treated using ECLS have a bedside nurse dedicated to the care of the patient as well as a second, specially trained nurse committed to the management of the ECLS machine. A physician trained in ECLS technology manages or co-manages each of the patients on ECLS, and a UC Davis Medical Center perfusionist is available at all times to assist with the equipment and patient management.

"Our extracorporeal life support program is a model for quality, interprofessional care at UC Davis. I'm proud of the commitment of our whole team to reach this level of achievement," said Laura Kenny, assistant nurse manager and ECLS coordinator at the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at UC Davis Children's Hospital.

ECLS frequently is used in newborns with severe lung disease; older children treated with ECLS fall into several categories, including children who have severe pneumonia or other infections and those with acquired heart disease, such as myocarditis or cardiomyopathy. ECLS also permits the hearts of infants and children who have undergone surgery for congenital heart disease to rest and recover following surgery.

The Extracorporeal Life Support Organization is an international consortium of health care professionals and scientists who are dedicated to the development and evaluation of novel therapies for support of failing organ systems. Crucial is the promotion of a broad multidisciplinary collaboration. The primary mission of the Organization is to maintain a registry of, at least, use of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation in active ELSO centers. As appropriate, registries of other novel forms of organ system support are within the purview of ELSO. Registry data is to be used to support clinical research, support regulatory agencies, and support individual ELSO centers. ELSO provides educational programs for active centers as well as for the broader medical and lay communities. For more information, visit

UC Davis Children's Hospital is the Sacramento region's only nationally ranked, comprehensive hospital for children, serving infants, children, adolescents and young adults with primary, subspecialty and critical care. It includes the Central Valley's only pediatric emergency department and Level I pediatric trauma center, which offers the highest level of care for critically ill children. The 129-bed children's hospital includes the state-of-the-art 49-bed neonatal and 24-bed pediatric intensive care and pediatric cardiac intensive care units. With more than 120 physicians in 33 subspecialties, UC Davis Children's Hospital has more than 74,000 clinic and hospital visits and 13,000 emergency department visits each year. For more information, visit