ECMO - Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation

Advanced Adult Life-Saving Care

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO, is a type of mechanical circulatory support device that provides therapy for patients who have life-threatening lung and/or heart conditions.

ECMO does not treat or cure a disease; rather, it acts as an “artificial” heart and lungs to allow time for these organs to rest and heal. The machine temporarily takes over for these organs by removing blood from the body and then pumping it through the artificial lung (oxygenator).


The oxygenator removes the carbon dioxide and puts oxygen into the blood, which is then pumped back into the body. This device can be used to treat heart failure, heart attacks, cardiogenic shock, pulmonary embolism, acute respiratory failure, and other disease processes. This therapy is sometimes a bridge to long-term treatments such as a ventricular assist device, heart transplant, or lung transplant.

The ECMO program is currently available as part of our comprehensive cardiovascular services at Northside Hospital Gwinnett, which is one of only ten hospitals in the state offering this technology. Our center is a specialized program made up of a multidisciplinary team of medical professionals with expertise in managing ECMO patients.  This team is comprised of interventional cardiologists, surgeons, intensivists, advanced practitioners, nurses, perfusionists, and respiratory therapists who work together to provide coordinated care to these critically ill patients in order to optimize survival and quality outcomes.

Melissa's story: ECMO saved her life

After nearly a year in the hospital, Cochran-native Melissa Laney is back to living life to the fullest. In August of 2021, Melissa’s life was turned upside down after she was diagnosed with COVID-19. What she thought were mild COVID symptoms almost ended her life.

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Who determines if a Patient is Eligible for ECMO?

A dedicated team of experienced ECMO clinicians assesses the patient to determine eligibility for ECMO. Many factors go into deciding whether or not a patient requires ECMO. Each patient’s case is considered on an individual basis.

Patient Referral

If you are a physician or medical professional and need assistance arranging patient transport to Northside Hospital Gwinnett, contact our Transfer Center at (855) 662-6625. An ECMO physician is available and on call 24/7. We serve hospitals throughout Georgia and surrounding states.

ECMO Leadership Team

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Allison Dupont, MD, FACC, FSCAI
Director, Northside Hospital Heart Institute Mechanical Circulatory Support

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Charlie Nix, BSN, RN, CCRN-K
Northside Hospital
ECMO Coordinator

ECMO 101: With Dr. Dupont

Northside 101 is a series of interviews with Northside Hospital's experts, breaking down complex medical terms and procedures.

In this episode, interventional cardiologist Dr. Allison Dupont of Northside Hospital Cardiovascular Institute discusses Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation, also known as ECMO.

The ECMO machine pumps and oxygenates a patient's blood outside the body, allowing the heart and lungs to rest. When connected to an ECMO, blood flows through tubing to an artificial lung in the machine that adds oxygen and takes out carbon dioxide; then the blood is warmed to body temperature and pumped back into the body. Dr. Dupont explains the importance of ECMO and what patients are recommended for the procedure.

ECMO & Northside in the News

State-of-the-art technology supports heart and lung function in critically ill patients recovering from flu, COVID-19 and other severe injuries

Northside Hospital Heart Institute is now offering ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation), a state-of-the art, life-saving technology, which gives full lung and heart support to some very critically ill patients.

The heart‘s primary function is to pump blood through the body, delivering oxygen and nutrients to tissues. When the heart is not working, ECMO can take over by pumping the patient’s blood through a device that adds oxygen and removes carbon dioxide outside of the body, before circulating the blood back into the patient. Likewise, if the lungs are not working and a ventilator cannot provide enough support, ECMO can take over and perform the function of the lungs. Read More