Heart Surgery in the PI: The Republic of the Philippines

The Republic of the Philippines.

Editor’s Note:

This is an interview with Weng Puno-Baldeo, perfusionist in the PI (Philippine Islands).  A lush land of very generous, kind, and caring people.

Heart Surgery in the PI: The Republic of the Philippines

Click image to view Weng’s FB page…

Hi Weng.  First of all, thank you for doing this interview on ‘Surfers.  It was nice talking on FB-and that of course, led to this, and I appreciate it because it makes us all a bit stronger when we see our lives across the globe- so similar yet different…

Q 1:

Can you give a brief back ground of yourself, how you became interested in medicine and in particular how you migrated from nursing to perfusion?

Hi Frank,

Sorry for the delay.

I’m 33 yrs.old, a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Biology, went to medical school for a year and decided to quit. Studied nursing and graduated last 2005. I took my nclex last 2006 and luckily I passed the exam.

Got employed and was assigned in Mindanao Heart Center, the cardiac center of Southern Philippines Medical Center. I worked as a recovery room nurse for 4 ½ yrs and handle post cardiac surgery patients. When our perfusionist left for Albania, I was one of the lucky nurses who were invited to train as cardiovascular perfusionist in Philippine Heart Center.

Q 2:

Could you describe your perfusion school, the type of training, the type of cases you do?

Here in the Philippines, there is no established school of perfusion yet. We only have training courses that lasts for 6 months.

Before the actual training we were given 2 weeks to read the book on perfusion and were given an examination after. Formal training started with the sterile technique and proper handling and familiarization of the oxygenator and Tubings pack, followed by demonstration and return demonstration of the hlm set up.

Then we were assigned with preceptors to further explain to us the mechanisms and conduct of perfusion. We do cases like CABG, Valve replacements,  vascular surgeries and pediatric open heart surgeries as well.

Q 3:

What type of procedures do you do as  a staff perfusionist?  Describe a typical day as a perfusionist in your life.

As a newbie, we only get to handle vsd/asd closure. For major open heart surgeries, we still have our senior to oversee us while we are on-pump. Since we don’t have open heart cases every day, most of the time we spend it on reading and making lecture/presentation for nurses who don’t have any idea on perfusion. And, if we have scheduled cases, we usually do the preparation the day before.

Q 4:

Can you tell me what the physician / perfusion relationship is like in the Philippines?  Having lived in the Philippines myself as a Navy Corpsman, I recognize that it is a very male dominated society.  Does that hieaarchy insert itself into the operating room as well?  Are your male counterparts treated dissimilar from yourself, or is it an equal relationship- perfusion to MD?

Yes you are right, it is indeed a very male dominated society but so far our surgeons are very supportive of us. They guide and coach us during surgery.

Our first time to set up the machine was very not easy since it requires a lot of physical strength considering my co trainee and I were both lady nurses.

Our male counterparts were kind enough to assist us and treated us fairly as well, in fact they spoon feed us pump info and taught us techniques to help us understand better the heart lung machine and intra-aortic balloon pump.

Q 5:

How did you find out about the Circuit Surfers blog, and what are your thoughts about the direction it is heading?  Do you use it as a resource or more as an online new site to visit and see if anything interesting pops up?  Do you believe that we can truly develop an international perfusion community- and if so- what types of new media play the largest roles?

I found out about the circuit surfer blog while looking for something to read on perfusion then I added it up on facebook. Just recently, I use it to update me on “what’s new” in the field.

It’s really affirming to know that there is a venue such as the circuit surfers blog where in perfusionists around the globe meet and share their views and opinions and possible latest updates in the field of perfusion.

Q 6:

Ultimately, what is your goal with perfusion?  Is it a passion for life, or a stepping stone to new adventures?

Right now, I am just beginning to love perfusion. I had a really hard start learning how to pump and now I’m getting the hang of it. I want to have a formal education on perfusion and maybe if given a chance, help in the advancement of the perfusion profession in my country 🙂


Thank you Weng for this interview.  I would like to do a followup on the concept for developing a perfusion program in the Philippines, that is academically recognized, with a certification process etc…

Any perfusion educators out there with expertise, input, or thoughts on the subject- are certainly invited to lend a hand to the discussion.

Republic of the Philippines:  Davao City


Wengs Home: Davao City (click image to view)


Weng & her homies…


Small rural village …




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