Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) has become the first healthcare organisation in the Middle East, Western Asia, and Africa region to receive the Extracorporeal Life Support Organisation’s (Elso) Award for Excellence in Life Support (Gold Level) for its extracorporeal life support programme. 
Also called extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (Ecmo), the therapy is used as a last resort support system for the lungs or heart and has helped save the lives of around 100 infants, children, and adults in Qatar since first being introduced at HMC in 2014.
The award was presented to members of HMC’s Ecmo team on May 24. The award is for a three-year term and recognises centres worldwide that demonstrate an exceptional commitment to evidence-based processes and quality measures, advanced education for staff, patient satisfaction, and ongoing clinical care.
It also demonstrates an assurance of high-quality standards, specialised equipment and supplies, and defined patient protocols. Recipients of the Excellence in Life Support Award are designated as Centres of Excellence.
The Ministry of Public Health commissioned the lifesaving programme in 2013 in response to the Mers-CoV outbreak in the region. The Mers-CoV infection is associated with a high mortality rate due to the rapid onset of severe respiratory and renal failure. 
HE the Minister of Public Health Dr Hanan Mohamed al-Kuwari congratulated HMC’s Ecmo team on the award, noting that the technology is an example of Qatar’s commitment to providing patients with the world’s best care.
“In early 2013, the ministry facilitated an Ecmo partnership between HMC and UK-based Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS as part of our national Mers-CoV preparedness and response plan, and specifically the need to treat patients with severe respiratory illness.
Ecmo offers patients the highest level of life support and over the last four years, HMC’s skilled Ecmo team has used this technology to treat some of the sickest and most severely traumatised patients.
The Elso award signifies Qatar’s commitment to bringing the world's best technologies and treatments to Qatar and it demonstrates to patients and families a dedication to providing the best care possible,” said Dr al-Kuwari.
HMC’s director of the Medical Critical Care Division and Ecmo Programme, Dr Ibrahim Fawzy Hassan, said in addition to being one of the few healthcare systems in the Middle East region to use Ecmo, HMC is also a regional training centre for the technology. 
Last year, a group of medical experts in the country developed a first-of-its-kind mannequin to help train teams on the system. The Ecmo simulation mannequin was conceptualised, designed, and built in Qatar. 
“Ecmo is a bridge to recovery for patients with reversible lung and heart failure. The Ecmo machine acts as a temporary, artificial lung and heart and takes over the work of these organs while the body is allowed to recover with the help of other medical and surgical measures. This technology allows us to provide the highest level of care to patients with complex illnesses,” said Dr Fawzy,
HMC’s extracorporeal life support programme is ranked among the best in the region, a distinction that Dr Fawzy credits to the Ecmo team. He says HMC is honoured to receive the prestigious designation that recognises his team’s expertise in critical care and life support.
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