Heart failure (severe)

Heart failure describes a situation when the heart is not pumping blood around the body as efficiently as possible. The term ‘failure’ can be confusing – the heart does not actually stop pumping. However, the heart is less effective at both delivering oxygen and nutrients to the rest of the body and carrying waste products away.

Heart failure is usually associated with other conditions that have a direct effect on heart function, for example cardiomyopathy or myocarditis. Children with congenital heart disease are more at risk of heart failure as the structural heart problem they have results in abnormal, less efficient flow of blood.

Cardiac ECMO provides support for babies or children with severe heart failure. The aim is to rest the child's heart so it is not under any stress and can have time to recover.

Our guide gives you more information about cardiac ECMO, why your child needs it and what to expect. It should be used as an addition to detailed and regular talks with the doctors and nurses caring for your child. 

Download our cardiac ECMO information guide (PDF) (471.7 KB)