Baptist Health-Fort Smith Offers Life-Saving ECMO

FORT SMITH, Ark. – Life-saving extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is now available at Baptist Health-Fort Smith. 

ECMO is a form of life support for patients with life-threatening illnesses or injuries that affect the heart or lungs. In ECMO, blood is pumped outside of a patient’s body to a heart-lung machine that removes carbon dioxide and sends oxygen-filled blood back to tissues in the body. This process allows the heart and lungs to rest and heal. 

ECMO is used when other treatments have failed to resolve the underlying disorder. Some situations where ECMO can be utilized include in the severe cases of heart attack, trauma, sepsis, COVID-19, pneumonia, hypothermia, birth defects of the heart or respiratory failure. 

“If a patient needs ECMO, time is the enemy,” said Dr. Hussam Hawamdeh, an interventional and structural cardiologist at Baptist Health-Fort Smith. “The longer it takes to get a patient on heart/lung support, the more damage that can be done to the body. So, by being able to offer ECMO in Fort Smith, we’re decreasing the wait time by an average of three hours. It could be the difference between life or death.” 

The goal is to stabilize a patient until they can safely be transferred to the care of Baptist Health’s ECMO Program in Little Rock. Baptist Health Medical Center-Little Rock was recently recognized as an Extracorporeal Life Support Organization (ELSO) Silver Level Award Recipient. This recognition signifies the commitment to clinical excellence in ECMO patient care.

“ECMO can be life-saving for patients young and old,” said Shane Jennings, MD, chief medical officer at Baptist Health-Fort Smith. “Being able to offer this life-saving care to patients in a timely manner will have a huge impact on our community.” 

To learn more about Dr. Hawamadeh or cardiology services at Baptist Health, visit


About Baptist Health

For more than a century, Baptist Health has delivered all our best in health care through Christian compassion and innovative services. Baptist Health, Arkansas’ most comprehensive health care organization, is here For You. For Life. – with more than 250 points of access that include 12 hospitals; urgent care centers; a senior living community; over 100 primary and specialty care clinics; a college with studies in nursing and allied health; and a graduate residency program. It is also the largest private not-for-profit health care organization based in Arkansas, providing care through the support of approximately 11,000 employees, groundbreaking treatments, renowned physicians and community outreach programs. For more information about Baptist Health, visit, call Baptist Health HealthLine at 1-888-BAPTIST or download the myBaptistHealth app.