Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is the only therapeutic option for patients with ventilation-refractory hypercapnia while awaiting lung transplantation. Moreover, there is increasing success using ECMO for definitive respiratory failure in formerly healthy patients. This report describes the use of membrane oxygenation as a bridge to lung transplantation in 2 patients on the waiting list and in 2 previously healthy patients. Our experience showed that coagulation management, critical illness myopathy, and psychological disorders were the most critical problems. One patient died at 2 days after transplantation, 1 at 3 months, and 2 returned to their pretransplantation activities. We concluded that ECMO is an adequate bridge to lung transplantation but, especially in formerly healthy patients, an awake procedure is advisable for a successful outcome.
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