Extracorporeal life support (ECLS), also known as extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), provides temporary support for patients with heart failure, lung failure or both.

ECLS runs 24 hours a day, continuously removing carbon dioxide from a patient’s blood and then returning oxygen-rich blood to a patient. Most patients need treatment for a few days to several weeks. ECLS can offer invaluable time for organs to recover. 

Patients: Learn more about ECMO therapy

About our ECLS team

Our team recommends ECLS when ventilators or hemodynamic support haven’t significantly helped a patient.

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center is a high-volume ECMO center capable of managing complex end-stage heart and/or lung failure, treating over 100 patients annually with ECMO.

Our skilled ECLS team provides life support to patients under the direction of Ohio State cardiac surgeons and critical care anesthesiologists.

Because we’re part of a top academic health center, our patients have direct access to advanced treatments and care teams of every discipline. This includes access to the most advanced emergency protocols and an expansive team of heart failure and transplant specialists who can provide patients with whatever care they need, including ventricular assist and total artificial heart devices.

We’re also home to central Ohio’s only adult heart and lung transplant program — offering our patients the full spectrum of care.

Mission and vision

Our mission is to provide life-saving extracorporeal intervention for our area’s most critically ill patients. Every day we work to promote and advance these therapies throughout Ohio and the rest of the world.

How to refer a patient to our ECLS/ECMO program

Our team is available for consultations regarding extracorporeal support as well as transfer and management of patients already on ECMO. Please contact our Transfer Center at 614-293-4444 for further information. We provide 24-hour day, access to an ECMO specialist.

A safer, more efficient transfer to our hospital

We’ve partnered with MedFlight to transport patients undergoing ECMO therapy at another hospital to our facility — and to do so in safer, more efficient way. Rather than hospitals using their limited resources to manage the transportation, we use our own equipment and medical experts to bring patients to us. Before making the trip, our team can determine any precautions needed and then closely monitor patients along the way.

Learn more about the Ohio State ECMO transport program 

ECMO education and training

As a top academic health center, we offer comprehensive training opportunities in mechanical support, including ECMO.

Fellowships providing hands-on ECMO experience for physicians training in critical care medicine:

Residencies for extensive education in cannulation, ECMO initiation and ongoing management:

All trainees graduate our programs ready to care for patients supported with ECMO.


Our teams engage in an array of academic research. Please review our publications for past endeavors. Our current and future projects will focus on ECMO simulation, database research and clinical trials.



Outcomes and success

We’re proud to be recognized as an international Gold Center of Excellence from the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO) for excellence in patient care, training and education.

Our team consistently performs at or above national averages for ELSO quality metrics.

Message from the directors

ECMO TeamThank you for your interest in the ECMO Program at the Ohio State Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital. Our team is committed to excellence in extracorporeal life support including clinical outcomes, education and research. We also strive to create and grow partnerships with local, state, and nationwide institutions in order to promote collaboration in ECMO care. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with further questions, and for immediate patient care assistance, please call our ECLS Transfer Center. (Listed from left to right: Lauren Kirkland, Asvin Ganapathi, Rafal Kopanczyk, Eric Stallkamp).

Rafal Kopanczyk, DO
Medical ECMO Director

Asvin Ganapathi, MD
Surgical ECMO Director

More about ECMO

More about ECMO