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UT Health East Texas to launch region's first ECMO program

Tyler, Texas (January 31, 2024) — UT Health East Texas plans to offer the region’s first adult extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) program for patients with severe forms of heart and/or lung failure. As an advanced pulmonary and cardiac treatment, ECMO is used for critically ill patients to alleviate the stress on these vital organs, allowing restorative time for recovery to a state of normal function.

“This treatment will allow patients to receive the highest level of cardiac and pulmonary supportive care locally, rather than being transferred to a facility far from home to receive this cutting-edge therapy,” said Dr. Michael Lamanteer, UT Health East Texas Chief Medical Officer. 

East Texas patients needing ECMO currently are transferred to Dallas or Houston. He said bringing ECMO technology to East Texas requires a substantial commitment from the hospital system in terms of equipment, training for staff and multidisciplinary physician involvement. 

“This modality is an advanced level of cardiac and pulmonary treatment that is resource intensive and has been demonstrated to save lives. It also will present a unique teaching opportunity for our medical students, residents and critical care fellows,” he said. “ECMO will provide a strong foundation for further development of our pulmonary and cardiology services.”

Dr. Matt Leveno, ICU Medical Director and Chief of Critical Care Medicine, said the health system is focused on building the ECMO clinical care team with the goal of implementing ECMO at UT Health Tyler in the second to third quarter of 2024. 

“ECMO treatment in the East Texas region is a natural evolution of UT Health’s commitment to the highest levels of advanced clinical capabilities as well as academic development for medical residents. We’re proud to be bringing this lifesaving technology to East Texas.”