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The ASA+ FNA Conference Photo Competition for 30th Aeromedical Society of Australasia and Flight Nur

Interstate paediatric ECMO retrieval

Jenna McGeever
NSW Newborn and paediatric Emergency Transport Service (NETS), Bankstown Aerodrome, Australia

Wendy Bladwell
NSW Newborn and paediatric Emergency Transport Service (NETS), Bankstown Aerodrome, Australia

Killian O’Shaughnessy
Heart Centre for Children, Westmead Children’s Hospital, Westmead, Australia

Puneet Singh
NSW Newborn and paediatric Emergency Transport Service (NETS), Bankstown Aerodrome, Australia,
Children’s Intensive Care Unit, Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick, Australia


Jenna is a clinical nurse specialist working at NETS and has and has worked as a retrieval nurse for the last 5 years. Prior to this Jenna worked in paediatric intensive care.



For more than 40 years the Newborn and paediatric Emergency Transport Service (NETS) in NSW has been providing safe and timely interfacitly transportation of critically ill babies and children. NETS are now adding Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) retrievals to that well established base.


NETS NSW was requested to retrieve a 5 month old baby from a children’s hospital in Sydney to a Melbourne children's hospital for heart transplant. This was the first NETS retrieval of an ECMO patient with central cannulation via a median sternotomy, making this a more challenging retrieval, with cannulas located only 2mm inside vessels.


This case presented multiple clinical and logistical challenges with the request being made over the New Year holiday period. The transfer was a success due to the effective collaboration of multiple parties. The team consisted of NETS retrieval nurses, a paediatric intensivist/NETS consultant and a clinical perfusionist.


The equipment required for this type of retrieval was not certified for this particular airframe, requiring approval from aeronautical engineers.


NETS obtained access to a FW aircraft that was chartered by the Royal Flying Doctors Service (RFDS). In order to streamline processes for future ECMO retrievals, NETS are designing a system that incorporates ECMO equipment that will be certified as a unit. This will ensure individual devices will no longer require ad hoc certification.

Until NSW can offer heart transplantation for children, ECMO retrievals to Melbourne for babies and children requiring heart transplant will continue. The customised NETS ECMO system will be able to facilitate all future ECMO retrievals.



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