The Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) machine is a portable heart-lung machine that circulates and oxygenates a patient’s blood and then re-infuses it.

This life-saving technology allows the heart and lungs to recover, and keeps organs functioning while medical teams continue their work.

Recently, the ECMO team at VGH has been honoured with the Platinum ELSO Award of Excellence. This award is bestowed by the prestigious Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO), an international non-profit consortium of health care institutions, researchers, providers, and industry partners.

Receiving this award is one of the highest honours an ECMO care team can receive, and is based on their commitment to quality, systems, patients and families, and ongoing improvement.

Learn about some of the patients whose lives have been saved by our ECMO care team.

Nick's Story

Before Nick Kanaan was even born, tests from his mother’s amniotic fluid determined Nick had cystic fibrosis, an inherited disorder that had already claimed two of his sisters’ lives, and would leave Nick fighting for his own life in 2019.

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Grateful Patient Nick Kanaan and family

Nick Kanaan and his family

Willie's Story

In spring of 2016, Willie’s health rapidly declined and he was in urgent need of a lung transplant.

The 44-year old construction manager was admitted to VGH with respiratory failure, having been previously diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis – a disease that causes scarring of the lungs. In May, he became BC’s first patient to be placed on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) while waiting for an organ match.

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Willie Dalagan

Alison's Story

In 2017 local filmmaker David Fine got the worst news of his life.  Doctors told him that his wife, Alison Snowden, had no chance of survival.

The Oscar-winning couple had been working on their latest animated film when Alison had contracted a virus which just wouldn’t go away.

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Alison Snowden and her husband, David Fine

Simon's Story

On a typical weekday morning Simon Smith headed to work. He had no idea that in a few hours’ time he would be fighting for his life.

“I remember going up the stairs and feeling winded, and it was only two flights,” says Simon. “It was unusual because I go up those stairs almost every day.”

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Simon Smith and his partner Dr. Raewyn Broady of VGH


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