Yahoo’s, Cowboy’s & Heart Surgeons: “We Stop Your Heart to Keep You Alive”


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FA 2016

Editor’s Note:

I am writing a book on an inside perspective on Heart Surgery in America.  I decided that I would release portions of this story as I am telling it- to see what you think.  We all have our stories about how we got here 🙂

It is in chronological order, so some of the passages will relate to the story of a man, and his journey to get into the surgical arena, and become a perfusionist.  

Let’s see how it goes, and I look forward to any suggestions or comments.  Plz remember, this is a somewhat rough draft, but based on real events as they happened.  🙂


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Yahoo’s, Cowboy’s, and Heart Surgeons

An Inside Look at Cardiac Surgery in America

By Frank Aprile

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We Stop Your Heart To Keep You Alive

As the title on the cover says, this is a book on open heart surgery in America, and the people that participate in this process.  I am one of those people, so the point of view you are about to be entertained with, won’t be coming from a physician or person with any sort of auspicious academic pedigree.  Am I a student of life?  Is that the mantle I really want to hang my hat on?  No.

I’ll avoid that particularly messy question mark by not insulting you with a litany of trite rationales in order to salt my resume’.  I’m a professional and academic mutt.  I attended a mixed breed of vocational, military, community college, continuing education, and then of course the expensive yet highly sought after fast-track program to bag-and tag the Baccalaureate.   Most of my life I danced in the shadows of higher academia, and over the years I nickel and dimed myself to some sort of professional respectability.  It’s not a 20-page resume’, it’s a three pager (five if you count the cover letter and references sections).

We’ll get back to my exciting life a bit later, so for now, let me take you into the operating room for a moment to familiarize you with where we are heading, and then I’ll get back to sharing with you how I got there.  Join me please, it’s pretty exciting stuff we do here in our “heart rooms”.

“An inside look into Heart surgery in America” is an auspicious label, that when you wrap it up into the title of a book, it offers a hint of “sizzle to the bacon” for the readers’ consumption. If described properly, it should lend pause to the reader, and might raise an eyebrow, piquing a smidgen of curiosity.  I mean it’s heart surgery after all right?  That is the big Tamale of operations.  It a topic that definitely will make the rounds at the family dinner table if anyone close to you or your immediate nest is going have it done.

A lot of pork gets a lot of people to a lot of operating rooms for a lot of open heart surgeries.  Four decades ago, the concept of open-heart surgery was almost inconceivable to most Americans.  If you had heart disease, well a bad ticker meant your lottery ticket was coming in but from the wrong state.  This was not the ticket you bought at the corner store.  This would be the ticket that was handed down from your parents (the gene thing) or acquired by your prior lifestyle choices or current situation.

Heart surgery, or the mere fact that we can actually do it or “perform it” is a study in evolutionary poetry.  It is not the end result of the human journey to evolve and develop, but is certainly isn’t a bottom dweller in terms of technological development. There have been countless wars, and unbelievable destruction and carnage that gave us nuggets of freshly hewn impetus to find more efficient and quicker ways to kill each other off.  I am pretty certain that our competitive nature and our relentless pursuit to achieve dominance over all things in our path, started somewhere when we beat a couple million other sperm to be the first to play tag with the corona radiata, and get snagged by the golden ticket (egg).  I think that winning this particular Olympic race, sets our blueprint to do the same on the outer side of the womb so to speak, and part of winning usually implies a loser.  Extrapolating that to war, semantics, politics, and religion, we have manufactured countless reasons to justify killing each other off.

Well this process of trying to kill serves two purposes: culling the herd, and sparking creativity.  I’m not talking modern art or the classics here, I’m talking about putting a lot of resources and attention to accomplish one thing- territorial dominance.  Continuous war has resulted in promoting technological growth which of course spilled over into other non-militaristic sectors such as medicine, technology, etcetera.  The irony is, we actually have to kill each other off, in order to stimulate our creativity to improve our ability to slaughter more efficiently, implying that our natural aggressiveness, is actually a helix encoded survival mechanism propelling us to evolve and become smarter.  Intelligent enough at least to push medicine to a point where bioengineering humanity towards immortality is now a glimpse around the corner rather than some stirring, awakening, or primal grunt one of your ancestors made while gazing at the stars.  So yeah, a shit load of killing and innovative genocide got us to the point of being able to place you on cardiopulmonary bypass to fix your soon to be- non-beating heart.  Once again, that cycle just won’t go away.  We have to kill you (theoretically) in order to save you.  Gotta love that!

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