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Critical Care Medicine

Extracorporeal Life Support (ECLS) Program

Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) System  | Novalung


The launch of the ECLS Program at SickKids began in 1988 with laboratory design of the proposed . Both the University of Minnesota and Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne were consulted. Following this, peer review and research investigation into the various components that comprised the ECLS system was undertaken and as a result, our system was designed.

The overall goal was to have a life support system that put safety as the core consideration but also made for straightforward, fast and efficient assembly, ease of transport, and small prime volume. With these factors in mind, SickKids system was designed using a centrifugal pump and a silicone polymer membrane oxygenator.

With evolving technology, the silicone polymer membrane oxygenator was first replaced with a hollow fibre membrane, followed by a long-term polymethylpentene hollow fibre plasma tight oxygenator that is in current use today.  Secondly, the circuits were heparin bonded resulting in increased biocompatibility and the centrifugal pump technology was updated to an improved system in 2004.

In February 1989, the first patient was placed on ECMO support after ingesting lamp oil thereby developing Hydrocarbon Pneumonitis. From this point, the SickKids ECLS program has continued to grow and support children with various etiologies. In an effort to meet the demands of the program, an ECMO Specialists Training program was commenced in 1990. This program is an essential component to the sustainability of the ECLS /Rescue ECMO program and the care we are able to provide our patients & families on an ongoing basis.



The Novalung® iLA Membrane Ventilator is a ventilation support device. It is an external device through which blood is pumped out of the body, driven by the patient’s heart function, sent though an oxygenating filter and returned to the body. The exchange of oxygen and waste gas happens through a membrane where CO2 is removed and oxygen is added; the oxygenated blood is returned back to the body and regular circulation.

Novalung Education Program Novalung® iLA Membrane Ventilator Therapy
Care of patients requiring Novalung® iLA Membrane Ventilator therapy is highly specialized.  A collaborative inter professional approach is taken in preparing and maintaining clinician skills to provide care to these patients and their families. Nurses, respiratory therapists, physicians, perfusionist and ecmo specialists are all engaged in the ongoing assessment and care of Novalung® iLA Membrane Ventilator therapy. Bedside practitioners caring for Novalung® iLA Membrane Ventilator therapy patients must complete two or more of the following:

    • Didactic introductory lecture on Novalung® iLA Membrane Ventilator therapy
    • Face to face learning session with a PICU educator
    • Review the Novalung® iLA Membrane Ventilator therapy guidelines (web based or hard copy)
    • Review of policy and procedures with education team member
    • Observed performance of sampling, venting and assessment/documentation of Novalung® iLA Membrane Ventilator therapy with an educator