History of ECMO

ECMO technology was developed in the late 1960s by a team led by Robert H. Bartlett, MD. Its main purpose was to serve as a long-term “bypass machine” to support the lungs or heart, which was not feasible at that time with conventional bypass machines. ECMO was first used successfully in 1971 by a patient with severe lung dysfunction after a motorcycle accident. In 1976, it was also used successfully for a baby who had severe lung injury from meconium aspiration, which led to increased use in the pediatric population. In 2009, ECMO was used worldwide in the treatment of severe lung failure during the H1N1 influenza pandemic.