Genesis: Why I Chose to become a Perfusionist… The Long & Winding Road


Editor’s Note:

I was talking to a colleague of mine, who was visiting our program to help out for a bit, and we both had some pretty long and interesting background stories about some of the reasons of why we chose to become Perfusionists.  After thinking about it, I realized I had had this same conversation more than once- multiple times over the years as I met fellow perfusionists during my career in this profession.  So I talked to my friend Chris- and asked him if he would like to share his story on ‘Surfers- because I found it fascinating.

Hence a new series is born (thank you Chris)  🙂  Genesis: Why I Chose to become a Perfusionist…

Please feel free to send in your own stories and I will share them here on “Surfers.  Include pictures and whatever insight you would like to share.

Email to:  [email protected].

Thanks & and have an excellent day 🙂


The Long & Winding Road

My journey into perfusion is a long and winding road, but the experience that I have gained has served me well in my chosen profession.

My senior year of high school I had decided I would be the first in my family to attend college. My parents sat down with me and told me they could not afford to send me to college and I would have to find funding on my own. I chose to join the Army. During basic training we were called into the barracks to watch a breaking news story about how Iraq had invaded Kuwait. Our training changed at that point. After finishing training in transportation, I returned home for a few weeks. One night I received a phone call asking if I wanted to volunteer for deployment with a transportation unit to serve in Operation Desert Storm. I agreed and found myself heading into a combat theater. The experiences I endured while in the Middle East could fill numerous articles so I won’t bore you with that (only my wife).

Upon returning to the states I resumed the aspiration of attending college. While in college my budget became tight, so I started looking for a job that allowed me to still attend classes. I became a mental health technician. My job at this time was in essence a modified bouncer in a special care unit that housed the unstable and violent patients. These patients would come in for stabilization of meds then would be sent back to the group home or facility that they had originally come from. On a side note, this gave me the ability to negotiate and reason with people who are behaving unreasonably, a valuable ability in dealing with some intense surgeons.

While working on the mental health unit, I found out there was an EMT program held at the hospital. I was advised the skills would help me on the unit, and it was free to me. During the entirety of the EMT-basic course, then my EMT-intermediate classes I stated over and over that I did NOT want to be a Paramedic, so naturally I became a Paramedic. During my Emergency Medical Services (EMS) career I developed attributes that has helped me in many ways in my current profession; resiliency, forethought, the ability to improvise adapt and overcome, and the ability to triage (sort) and prioritize. One of the aspects that I liked the most about EMS was the adrenalin dump I would get during more intense calls, something I still get with Perfusion when an emergency happens or a situation deteriorates.

An aspect of EMS that is not in perfusion is the imminent danger that could spring up in calls (even from knife wielding geriatric patients).  During the progression of my EMS career I began to teach all aspects of EMS. I worked as a lead instructor for EMT-basic classes, and I taught Anatomy &Physiology, pharmacology, cardiology, trauma, and various other aspects of the Paramedic program. The director of the EMS program urged me to start teaching Critical Care classes, which is a higher level certification for the Paramedic to deal with more advanced situations and critical patients. One of the lectures assigned to me was about the IABP. It was my belief that I was doing an outstanding job lecturing on the IABP, enter a Perfusionist. The lecture that he gave blew mine out of the water; I was taking so many notes that I had filled 5 notebook pages just from his 2 hour lecture.

About 6 months after that experience a previous student of mine asked me for a letter of recommendation for his admission to a Perfusion school, further piquing my interest. My wife and I moved from Michigan to Houston and the EMS company I worked for had a 2 week academy. During the academy one of the other new hires talked about how he and his brother were looking into becoming perfusionists. At this point, I took the hint and started researching about what a perfusionist is and does. My wife and I talked at length about what it would entail and how long the school would be and how our lives would change. We both have agreed that it was one of the best decisions of my life. I love all aspects of my chosen profession and I look forward to the many years to come.

Chris Trumpower, MS, CCP. LP