A complex life support procedure, called extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), can be used in infants who are near term age to overcome severe, potentially reversible breathing problems. ECMO is similar to the technology used in cardiac bypass surgery. Blood is removed from the body of the patient, oxygen is added to the blood, and the blood is returned to the patient. Although the number of babies requiring ECMO is small, and ECMO is a very invasive and potentially expensive procedure, the benefits of this procedure are high. In this review, four randomized trials that compared the use of ECMO to the conventional approach to supporting these infants with severe breathing problems were identified. Overall, these trials showed a strong benefit for ECMO regarding survival at the time of hospital discharge. This is particularly true for infants without a specific problem of lung formation (congenital diaphragmatic hernia). The result implies that for every three babies with breathing problems and lung failure who were treated with ECMO rather than conventional ventilation, one more infant will survive. Although little information is available regarding long-term follow-up, one trial in the United Kingdom shows both benefits of ECMO and cost-effectiveness of the use of ECMO.