Recovery from total acute lung failure after 20 months of extracorporeal life support

Kristen Nelson-McMillan, Luca A. Vricella, Fray Dylan Stewart, John Young, Ashish S. Shah, Narutoshi Hibino, John D. Coulson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Since the first successful case report in 1972, extracorporeal life support or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) has become a standard approach for severe respiratory failure unresponsive to other therapy. In the past, if there was no recovery by approximately 30 days or if right ventricular heart failure occurred, ECMO was discontinued and the patient died. More recently patients with severe lung disease have been maintained for months, as opposed to days, with eventual decannulation and recovery. We report the case of a child, 7 years old, with severe inhalational burn injury and rapid progression to multisystem organ failure. She was supported by ECMO with no lung function for almost 2 years. Central nervous system function remained normal and lung function recovered. This is the longest successful case of ECMO to date and prompts further discussion regarding "irreversible" lung injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e11-e14
JournalASAIO Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • extracorporeal membrane oxygenation
  • pulmonary hypertension
  • right heart failure
  • severe lung injury
  • ventricular assist device

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Biomedical Engineering

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