WVU Heart and Vascular Institute receives national ECMO recognition

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The WVU Heart and Vascular Institute has received the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO) Gold Level Center of Excellence Award, which recognizes those centers that demonstrate an exceptional commitment to evidence-based processes and quality measures, staff training and continuing education, patient satisfaction, and ongoing clinical care.


The members of the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute ECMO Program
The members of the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute ECMO Program

Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) supports patients with failing organ systems. It is one of the most advanced forms of life support available to patients experiencing acute failure of the cardio-respiratory system. It allows time for the patient’s lungs or heart to heal by using a heart-lung machine to oxygenate the blood outside the body over a period of time.

“The WVU Heart and Vascular Institute is honored to be the recipient of such a prestigious national award recognizing the critical care services and life-support that our incredible multidisciplinary team provides to our patients,” Vinay Badhwar, M.D., executive chair of the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute, said. “The WVU ECMO Program’s accomplishments reflect our dedication to advancing healthcare and statewide service that is central to our mission.”

A designated Center of Excellence has demonstrated extraordinary achievement in the following three 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 upon evidence; and
  • Excellence in training, education, collaboration, and communication supporting ELSO guidelines that contributes to a healing environment for families, patients, and staff.

The ECMO Program at the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute received the ELSO Silver Award of Excellence in 2018. Since that time, it has continued to exceed national and international benchmarks for the survival rate of its patients and has been sought out for its ECMO expertise.

In April 2020, J.W. Awori Hayanga, M.D., M.P.H., WVU Heart and Vascular Institute ECMO Program director, was appointed a special advisor by then-U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Eric D. Hargan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since May 2020, the ECMO Program at the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute has cannulated 53 COVID-positive patients. The Program’s survival-to-discharge rate is 70 percent compared to the international ELSO benchmark of 48 percent. 

“Our multidisciplinary ECMO team serves as a coach to over 20 institutions around the United States and Canada and has conducted numerous webinars in this regard, sharing our experience with other providers,” Dr. Hayanga said. “We have also been invited to publish recommendations for ECMO management in COVID-19 by the Journal of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery, as we now have the highest survival rate in the United States.”   

ELSO is an international non-profit consortium of healthcare centers and individuals who are dedicated to the development, evaluation, and improvement of ECMO and other innovative therapies for support of failing organ systems in the neonate, child, and adult. It is made up of a broad multidisciplinary collaboration of physicians, nurses, perfusionists, respiratory therapists, technicians, researchers, and industry experts. Global chapters of ELSO provide education and expertise in ECMO delivery around the world.

The ELSO Award of Excellence was developed to recognize ECLS Centers that utilize the ELSO Guidelines for ECMO Centers and Training and Education. Additionally, the ECMO Program is reviewed for indicator in Quality, Value of Care, and Benchmarking categories. It was first available for application in 2006. 

This year’s awards will be presented at the 32nd Annual ELSO Virtual Conference, which will be held Sept. 30-Oct. 1.

For more information on the WVU Heart and Vascular Institute, visit WVUMedicine.org/Heart