“It’s uniquely exhilarating doing something so few can do. That pretty much describes my life as a perfusionist, putting people on cardiopulmonary bypass for open-heart surgery.
I think we are reminded of our human fallibility (the potential to err is in all of us) each day we put someone on a heart-lung machine to perform cardiopulmonary bypass. With so many steps and moving parts in the equation, the goal is to choreograph out a perfect ‘10’ every single time.
Of course, that doesn’t always happen, as unforeseen circumstances may come up, equipment may fail, and the totally unexpected ‘never thought that was going to happen’ moment rears its’ head.
So, the ‘10’ ends up being- not the perfect pump run, as much as it disengages the focus from clinical perfection and enunciates the perfect recovery from an adverse situation.
That’s truly when we are ‘perfusionists’. The ability to adapt to rapid change, think through a previously unencountered problem, and still keep your heart in your chest- is what makes us all so special. Anybody that’s been in the field of open-heart surgery for a period of time has been in the zone. That’s a cool place to be. But ALL of us, have hovered outside of it as well.”