Extracorporeal Life Support Organization



ELSO is providing this website as a resource for centers who may be called on to manage COVID-19 patients. As this is an emerging infectious disease, the scientific data is constantly evolving. The contents of this page will change rapidly as new information develops. For real time updates, please follow ELSO’s social media accounts at Twitter (@ELSOOrg and @ECMOed) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/ELSO.Org) as well as the ECMOed COVID-19 page (https://ecmoed.blog/category/2019ncov-2/)


Guidance Document:

We are pleased to release ELSO`s Guidance on ECMO in COVID-19. This document has been approved by the Executive Committee and Chapter Chairs. It will be updated as necessary.



Reporting COVID-19 Cases into the ELSO Registry

Reporting COVID-19 Cases into the ELSO Registry

Confirmed COVID-19 cases should utilize the ICD-10 emergency code U07.1, 2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease as the primary diagnosis. In an effort to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on ECMO we have also added a question asking if a patient has COVID-19.

There are 4 response options:

  • COVID-19 confirmed by testing 

  • COVID-19 suspected but NO testing 

  • No clinical suspicion of COVID-19 (and no testing) 

  • COVID-19 confirmed negative 

COVID-19 Cases on ECMO in the ELSO Registry:

Suspected or Confirmed
Confirmed Cases
Total counts of COVID-19 confirmed patients and count of COVID-19 suspected but not confirmed by testing.
COVID-19 ECMO counts by ELSO Chapter
North America58
Asia Pacific*
Latin America*
* not reporting cases where n < 5
Reports counts of ECMO-supported suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases by ELSO Chapter (provided the chapter has at least 5 cases reported)


ECMO Related COVID-19 Research


ExtraCorporeal Membrane Oxygenation for 2019 novel Coronavirus Acute Respiratory Disease (ECMOCard) is a prospective/retrospective multi-center short period incidence observational study of intensive care unit patients with COVID-19. 


EuroELSO has established a COVID-19 survey and has released results. This is an ongoing effort in the region and we will continue to update this section as more results become available.

ECMOCARD Study Euro-ELSO Survey

General information regarding
the COVID-19 pandemic can be found at

General information regarding
the COVID-19 pandemic can be found at

WHOUnited States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Online dashboards
for tracking worldwide COVID-19:

Online dashboards
for tracking worldwide COVID-19:

WHOJohns HopkinsWorldometer COVID-19 Data

Webinars & Podcasts


Please join us on Friday, April 3rd at 4:00pm Eastern for our webinar: The Power of Connection. In this webinar, we will discuss the power of sharing information in real-time using WhatsApp COVID19 chat rooms so that we can share what we are learning about COVID-19 patients on ECMO quickly (Tammy Friedrich, Holli Williams, Amy Hackman). We will also share the experiences with COVID-19 patients on ECMO in Seattle (Jenelle Badulak), NYC (Cara Agerstrand), and Paris (Matthieu Schmidt).

Please register here.

Preparing to support #COVID19 patients on #ECMO: first ELSO webinar dedicated to the role of extracorporeal support in patients with #SARSCoV2 infection, speakers:
Dr. Ram Ramanathan
Dr. Kiran Shekar
Dr. Michael Matthay

COVID-19 Experience in Italy

Listen to Italian COVID19 experience from Pediatrica intensiva on Apple Podcasts.

Caregiver Resources


Scientific Literature regarding ECMO Use for COVID-19:

ECMO Related

Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) - https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/who-china-joint-mission-on-covid-19-final-report.pdf Published February 29, 2020.
Editor note: Comprehensive summary of the China response. Comments regarding ECMO use in the paper: “The application of intubation/invasive ventilation and ECMO in critically ill patients can improve survival. The Joint Mission Team was told of ECMO use in four patients at one hospital with one death and three who appeared to be improving. Clearly, though ECMO is very resource consumptive, any health system would need to carefully weigh the benefits.”

Min L, Gu S, Wu X, et al. Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation support in 2019 novel coronavirus disease: indications, timing, and implementation. Chinese Medical Journal. Published February 28, 2020. doi: 10.1097/CM9.0000000000000778.
Editor note: A guide with review of previous literature of ECMO patients, and clinical/technical points on cannulating while keeping staff safe. No patient level data.

Yang X, Yu Y, Xu J, et al. Clinical course and outcomes of critically ill patients with SARS-CoV-2 pneumonia in Wuhan, China: a single-centered, retrospective, observational study. Lancet Respiratory Medicine. Published February 24, 2020. doi: 10.1016/S2213-2600(20)30079-5. December-January Wuhan report. Editor note: Six ECMO patients – 1/6 survival.

MacLaren G, Fisher D, Brodie D. Preparing for the Most Critically Ill Patients With COVID-19The Potential Role of Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation. JAMA. Published online February 19, 2020. doi: 10.1001/jama.2020.2342
Editor note: Viewpoint in JAMA from ELSO leaders about the use of ECMO during the pandemic. “ECMO is not a therapy to be rushed to the frontline when all resources are stretched in a pandemic.”

Wang D, Hu B, Hu C, Zhu F, Liu X, Zhang J, et al. Clinical Characteristics of 138 hospitalized patients with 2019 novel coronavirus-infected pneumonia in Wuhan, China. Published Feburary 7, 2020. JAMA 2020. doi: 10.1001/jama.2020.1585. Editor note: Follow-up report of 138 patients from Wuhan. Four ECMO patients, no outcomes described.

Ronco C, Navalesi P, Vincent JL. Coronavirus epidemic: preparing for extracorporeal organ support in intensive care. Lancet Respiratory Medicine. Published February 6, 2020. doi: 10.1016/S2213-2600(20)30060-6

Chen N, Zhou M, Dong X, Qu J, Gong F, Han Y, et al. Epidemiological and clinical characteristics of 99 cases of 2019 novel coronavirus pneumonia in Wuhan, China: a descriptive study. Lancet 2020;395:507-513. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30211-7. Follow-up report of 99 patients from Wuhan. Editor note: Three ECMO patients, one described and died, no report on outcome of the other two.

Huang C, Wang Y, Li X, Ren L, Zhao J, Hu Y, et al. Clinical features of patients infected with 2019 novel coronavirus in Wuhan, China. Lancet 2020;395:497-506.doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30183-5
Editor note: Initial report of 41 total patients from Wuhan. Two ECMO patients, no survival data given.

Kollengode Ramanathan MD, David Antognini MBBS, Alain Combes MD, Matthew Paden MD, Bishoy Zakhary MD, Mark Ogino MD, Graeme MacLaren MS, Daniel Brodie MD, Kiran Shekar PhD. Planning and provision of ECMO services for severe ARDS during the COVID-19 pandemic and other outbreaks of emerging infectious diseases, March 20, The Lancet. doi: 10.1016/S2213-2600(20)30121-1

Clinical Management

Murthy S, Gomersall CD, Fowler RA. Care for Critically Ill Patients With COVID-19. JAMA. Published online March 11, 2020. doi: 10.1001/jama.2020.3633

Zhou F, Yu T, Du R, et al. Clinical course and risk factors for mortality of adult inpatients with COVID-19 in Wuhan, China: a retrospective cohort study. Lancet. Published March 11, 2020. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30566-3

Namendys-Silva SA. Respiratory support for patients with COVID-19 infection. Lancet Respiratory Medicine. Published March 05, 2020. doi: 10.1016/S2213-2600(20)30110-7

DelRio C, Nalani PN. COVID-19—New Insights on a Rapidly Changing Epidemic. JAMA. Published online February 28, 2020. doi: 10.1001/jama.2020.3072

Team Related

Adams JG, Walls RM. Supporting the Health Care Workforce During the COVID-19 Global Epidemic JAMA. Published online March 12, 2020. doi: 10.1001/jama.2020.3972.

Brooks SK, Webster RK, Smith LE, et al. The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: rapid review of the evidence. Lancet. Published February 26, 2020. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30460-8


Ghinai I, McPherson TD, Hunter JC, et al. First known person-to-person transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in the USA. Lancet. Published March 13, 2020. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30607-3

Chinazzi M, Davis JT, Ajelli M, et al. The effect of travel restrictions on the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Science. Published March 6, 2020. doi: 10.1126/science.aba9757

Holshue ML, DeBolt C, Lindquist S, et al. First Case of 2019 Novel Coronavirus in the United States. Published March 5, 2020. N Engl J Med 2020; 382:929-936. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa2001191

Guan Ej, Ni Z, Hu Y, et al. Clinical Characteristics of Coronavirus Disease 2019 in China. Published February 28, 2020. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa2002032

Li Q, Guan X, Wu P, et al. Early Transmission Dynamics in Wuhan, China, of Novel Coronavirus–Infected Pneumonia. Published January 29, 2020. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa2001316

Ramanathan K, Antognini D, Combes a, Paden M, Zakhary B, Ogino M. et al. Planning and provision of ECMO services for severe ARDS during the COVID-19 pandemic and other outbreaks of emerging infectious diseases. The Lancet. 2020 (Published online March 20). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-2600(20)30121-1

Henry M. COVID-19, ECMO and lymphopenia: a word of caution. The Lancet - Published Online March 13, 2020 https://doi.org/10.1016/ S2213-2600(20)30119-3

Observational concerns exist regarding the potential harm in use of ECMO for COVID-19. The Yang et al study describes the use of Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) in a small cohort of patients with an 83% mortality (5/6 patients).
Previously described data has shown an increased severity of disease in COVID-19 regarding lymphocyte count.
Lymphocyte counts are significantly lower in non-survivors. ECMO patients have shown substantial decreases in number and function of lymphocytes. Interleukin-6 (IL-6) in non-survivors is 1•7-times higher in COVID -19 patients. Survivors had normalized values. Consideration should be to track lymphocyte counts as well as IL-6 during ECMO to help identify patient prognosis.

Zhonghua Jie He He Hu Xi Za Zhi = Zhonghua Jiehe He Huxi Zazhi, Chinese Society of Extracorporeal Life Support. "[Recommendations on Extracorporeal Life Support for Critically Ill Patients With Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia]." = Chinese Journal of Tuberculosis and Respiratory Diseases, vol. 43, no. 3, March 12, 2020, pp. 195-198. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32164087

Giani M, Seminati D, Lucchini A, Foti G, Pagni F, Exuberant plasmacytosis in bronchoalveolar lavage of the first patient requiring Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation for SARSCoV-2 in Europe, Journal of Thoracic Oncology (March 4, 2020), doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtho.2020.03.008

COVID-19 Resource Centers, Scientific Journal Sites

The New England Journal of Medicine: https://www.nejm.org/coronavirus

Journal of American Medical Association: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/pages/coronavirus-alert

Science: https://www.sciencemag.org/coronavirus-research-commentary-and-news?IntCmp=coronavirussiderail-128

The Lancet: https://www.thelancet.com/coronavirus?dgcid=kr_pop-up_tlcoronavirus20

Under COVID-19 Global Dashboard: https://www.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6

ECMO in COVID-19 infection

The WHO is distributing an Interim Guidance document for the
"Clinical management of severe acute respiratory infection when Novel coronavirus (nCoV) infection is suspected. (https://www.who.int/publications-detail/clinical-management-of-severe-acute-respiratory-infection-when-novel-coronavirus-(ncov)-infection-is-suspected)" The WHO guidance document includes a statement to "consider referral patients with refractory hypoxemia despite lung-protective ventilation in settings with access to expertise in ECLS." Similarly, the United States Center for Disease Control provides interim guidance (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/clinical-guidance-management-patients.html) for clinical management of COVID-19 patients with and without acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Where ECLS expertise is available, ECLS should be considered according to the standard management algorithm for ARDS in supporting patients with viral lower respiratory tract infection. However, clearly, at this time, there is little worldwide experience with using ECLS to support COVID-19 patients. ELSO leaders have discussed the potential role of ECMO for COVID-19 patients in a recent Journal of the American Medical Association Viewpoint (https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/articlepdf/2761778/jama_maclaren_2020_vp_200024.pdf). ELSO will continue to collect data through our member centers through the ELSO Registry and provide recommendations as additional information becomes available.