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VGH recognized for excellence in ECMO


Rys Chapple, Physiotherapist, Nick Kanaan, Dr. Hussein Kanji, Intensivist and Co-Director of the ECMO program at VGH.

​Nick Kanaan knows the medical system better than most people. He lost his two sisters to cystic fibrosis at a young age and the disease nearly cost him his life. Thanks to innovative technology and a dedicated team of health care professionals at Vancouver General Hospital Nick is breathing normally and chasing his young daughter around the playground.

Nick Kanaan Samia Kanaan ECMO.jpg

“If it wasn’t for the team at VGH who stood by me in my darkest hour, I wouldn’t be here today,” says Nick. “They placed me on ECMO, which was my bridge to a lung transplant.” Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation or ECMO, is an advanced form of life support that pumps and oxygenates blood outside the body so a patient’s heart and lungs can rest. 

​First in Canada 

Vancouver General Hospital is the first Canadian hospital to achieve “gold level status” from the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization ​for its ECMO program. VGH recently received the prestigious award at the ESLO’s annual meeting in Austin, Texas.  “This recognition is a testament to the excellent health-care-professionals at Vancouver General Hospital who bring teamwork and technology together to care for the most critically ill people in our province,” says Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. 

The ECMO team 


 Top row: L to R Tammy Wu, Hussein Kanji, David Nash, Madeleine Plesko, Gordon Finlayson, Dara Davies,  George Isac, Eleanor Sese, Allana LeBlanc,  Amandeep Sidhu, Victor Uppal​  Bottom row: L to R Andrea Davidson, Kim Doucet, Kelly Yuill, Jonathan Triana​​

“ECMO is game-changing,” says Dr. Hussein Kanji, intensivist and co-director of the ECMO program at VGH. “But it’s the expertise of our entire team that enables us to provide this gold standard of care. 10-years ago, we couldn’t keep people alive long enough to receive a transplant; now patients like Nick are on ECMO for extended periods, increasing their chances of survival.” The ECMO team consists of many specialties including: ECMO_2.jpg

  • ​​Doctors 
  • Nurses 
  • Perfusionists 
  • Respiratory therapists ​​​
  • Physiotherapists 
  • Pharmacists 
  • ECLS specialist 
  • Dietitian 


  • More than 130 patients have benefitted from ECMO at VGH. 

  • VGH has nine ECMO machines.

  • There are two types of ECMO at VGH:

    • VA ECMO is connected to both a vein and an artery. It is used for patients with heart and lung problems. 

    • VV ECMO is connected to one or more veins, usually near the heart, and is used primarily for patients with lung problems.  

Learn more about ECMO with Kim-Long Ta, Clinical Educator, Perfusion Services, Vancouver Coastal Health:


Read more about ECMO and VGH in the Vancouver Sun​. ​

SOURCE: VGH recognized for excellence in ECMO ( )
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