Doctors studying ECMO gathered information on 12 meningococcal patients, aged between four months and 18 years, who had received the therapy in Australia and the UK since 1989.
They had been chosen for ECMO because they had heart or lung failure and had not responded to conventional treatment.
Of the twelve, eight survived, and six suffered no long-term adverse effects. Of the four patients who died, two were brain-dead and the families of the other two asked for ECMO to be withdrawn because blood supply failure meant it would have been necessary to amputate limbs.
Writing in the medical journal the Lancet, Dr Allan Goldman and colleagues said they did not think any of the patients would have lived without ECMO.Reuse content