CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- The University of Virginia Health System has earned international recognition for the care it gives patients with seriously injured hearts and lungs.

According to a release, the Extracorporeal Life Support Organization awarded the health system its Platinum Level Center of Excellence Award, which is the organization’s highest honor.

This honors the hospital’s providing of advanced life support through the Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation program, which is a continuous heart-lung machine that can provide weeks of support for patients who are facing life-threatening heart or lung conditions.

In the case of injured lungs, the organs cannot provide enough oxygen, while in the case of an injured heart, the organ cannot provide sufficient blood flow.

For these kinds of patients, this program takes over the critical functions of the heart and lungs to help keep a patient alive, allowing the injured organs to heal.

UVA Health has been using this program since 1991.

“I want to congratulate our entire ECMO team for their outstanding work in providing the highest level of care to some of the most seriously ill patients we care for at UVA Health,” said K. Craig Kent, MD, UVA Health’s chief executive officer and the University of Virginia’s executive vice president for health affairs.

The release says hospitals can receive this award for demonstrating a commitment to exceptional patient care through “excellence in training, education, collaboration, and communication supporting ELSO guidelines that contributes to a healing environment for families, patients and staff.”