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Barwon Health restart hearts

Monday, 15 October 2018

October 16 is Restart a Heart Day, encouraging people to learn CPR or update their knowledge to help increase survival rates before emergency services arrive. Find more information about CPR at

An artificial heart-lung machine is saving lives of people dying from cardiac arrest at University Hospital Geelong’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
Treatment for the most severe adult cardiac and respiratory failure utilises a process called extracorporeal membranous oxygenation (ECMO), with evidence, clinical experience and advances in extra-corporeal technology improving survival rates.

Barwon Health’s ECMO team has spent the past year developing, implementing and training for ECMO-CPR, an extension of its ECMO program, which began in 2011.

The ECMO program has been incredibly effective, with Barwon Health now the second busiest adult ECMO centre in Victoria after the Alfred Hospital, according to ICU director Associate Professor Neil Orford

“University Hospital Geelong is Victoria’s first non-heart transplant hospital to provide an extended, nurse-credentialed, ECMO service and our outcomes are comparable with international high-volume centres,” A/Prof Orford said.

“We have a governance and training program recognised internationally, and our team has done an incredible job getting Barwon Health stakeholders to extend our traditional ECMO service to include ECMO-CPR.

“We have been quietly doing more of this over the past few months, and through collaboration with Ambulance Victoria, our Emergency Department and cardiac services, are now providing this complex, technical intervention within an hour of cardiac arrest for selected patients.

“Less than one in 10 people survive cardiac arrest. Our hope is the use of ECMO-CPR will add to care we know improves the chance of good survival, such as early bystander CPR, expert care by our ambulance services, and advanced in-hospital care. 

“The goal is to improve survival and quality of life by restoring blood flow to vital organs, such as the brain.”

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