If you need a consultation about referring a patient to our ECMO program, please call our referral line at 770-219-6400.

When critical patients require additional support for severe or life-threatening breathing or cardiac conditions, there is help. Georgia Heart Institute offers a specialized therapy for these cases. ECMO can help patients who have suffered a massive heart attack, those with advanced heart failure and those with intensive lung damage, including patients with COVID-19.

For patients with severe or life-threatening lung or heart problems, the use of a ventilator may be used to support breathing. However, a ventilator may not be able to get enough oxygen into the bloodstream due to the severity of the lung or heart problem. For these particular cases, ECMO, or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, may be used to improve the patient’s changes of survival.

What is ECMO?

The most advanced form of life-support available in the world, ECMO provides temporary cardiopulmonary support by performing the work of the lungs and heart. It circulates blood outside of the body, puts in essential oxygen and removes carbon dioxide. This lifesaving device is used when other forms of therapy, including traditional ventilation, do not work. ECMO enables the heart and lungs to “rest” and heal. Patients who benefit most from this treatment are those with life-threatening, but likely reversible, heart or lung diseases.

How does ECMO work?

The machine connects to the patient’s blood stream through cannula, or plastic tubes, that are placed in large veins and arteries throughout the body. From there, the ECMO machine pumps blood out of the body, oxygenates it and then funnels it back through, essentially bypassing the lungs and replacing the function of the heart. This gives both the heart and the lungs the time and capacity to recover from a major event or illness. Our team at Georgia Heart Institute has undergone intensive training to offer this service to the community and manage patients who need ECMO to recover.

Where is ECMO offered?

ECMO is performed on our Gainesville hospital campus; however, the system is portable. This means that patients with an urgent need can be transported to receive a heart or a lung transplant at a hospital that performs those procedures.

ECMO at Georgia Heart Institute

Advanced Technology

As Georgia’s most forward-thinking heart and vascular program, Georgia Heart Institute brings together a highly specialized cardiovascular care team with the most advanced technology available to ensure that your heart is in the best hands possible. Recognized with a silver-level designation on the pathway to excellence for strong clinical outcomes, our ECMO patient outcomes are on par with national averages. We utilize the most advanced ECMO technology available.

Multidisciplinary Clinical Expertise

Our clinicians have extensive training to support our ECMO patients as they undergo this intensive therapy. Every ECMO patient and their families have access to a multidisciplinary team, including Interventional Cardiologists, a Palliative Medicine specialist and our highly-experienced critical care nursing team, all of whom have specialized expertise in the ECMO program.

Finally, after patients are released from treatment, we offer a certified cardiac rehab program that can develop a customized rehabilitation program, including clinically-monitored exercise, nutritional counseling and more.

Connect with our Program

If you’re ready to connect with Georgia Heart Institute, select one of the following options below:


Choose a doctor from our expert Heart & Vascular team.


For official physician ECMO consultations please call 770-219-6400.