UT Medical Center Adds ECMO Service

Connect News UT Medical Center Adds ECMO Service

UT Medical Center Offers Potentially Lifesaving Therapy for Seriously Ill Patients

New technology allows for patient’s lungs and heart to heal when most needed

February 25, 2021

The University of Tennessee Medical Center is now providing a new, potentially lifesaving therapy for seriously ill patients with lung and heart conditions. The treatment, provided by team members at the Heart Lung Vascular Institute, one of the medical center’s seven Centers of Excellence, is called ECMO. ECMO stands for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. The new machine essentially does the work for the patient’s heart and lungs, allowing the patient time to heal.

“We’re extremely fortunate at UT Medical Center to be able to offer this advanced form of life support for patients suffering from severe cardiac or respiratory failure,” said Dr. Ben Bevill, medical director of the ECMO program at The University of Tennessee Medical Center. “This is an exciting opportunity to bring cutting-edge technology to help our patients who otherwise would have to be transferred to hospitals in other cities outside of our 21-county service area. We are excited to offer this service to further improve our care for patients in East Tennessee.”

According to Bevill, patients requiring ECMO therapy previously had to be transferred to Nashville, Lexington, or Atlanta for the advanced care. With the medical center becoming the first in the region to offer the therapy, the ability to now stay in Knoxville brings several positive elements for both the patient and the patient’s family members and loved ones.

Patients eligible for ECMO therapy are critically ill with typically less than a 25% chance of survival, and ECMO offers a chance at survival they would otherwise not have. During ECMO, the patient is closely monitored by a multidisciplinary team of health care providers, including nurses, specialists, therapists, physicians and other caregivers.

“ECMO is an important therapy for a select group of critically ill patients that uses a pump to provide heart-lung bypass outside of the patient’s body in an effort to give the patient time to heal,” said Dr. James Shamiyeh, senior vice president and chief quality officer at The University of Tennessee Medical Center. “UT Medical Center, as the region’s academic medical center, is well positioned to offer this therapy which is not otherwise available in our region. The launch of this service has required the close collaboration and dedication of several hospital departments and physician specialties. We are pleased to be able to offer this therapy to the patients of our region.”

Shamiyeh said bringing ECMO therapy to the medical center has been a top priority, in accordance with UT Medical Center’s strategic plan, to provide such an important service needed by many in the community.


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