Dr. G and the “Awe” factor in Heart Surgery

Click on the audio bar to hear Dr. G’s comments on remembering the importance of what she and her colleagues do.


The Pump

This is the key machine in open heart surgery; the “Pump”.  The heart-lung bypass machine.  They cut into the chest, put in tubes to reroute blood around the heart into and out of the machine so the heart can be stopped and worked on.  The original one of these was made at least partially out of tubing from beer kegs.  A bit more sophisticated now.surgeons story mark oristano

Everything in its Place

One of the things that always jumps out at you in the O.R. is how orderly everything is.  Whatever is needed is laid out in the perfect place in the perfect order, ready at a moment’s notice.  And if what’s needed isn’t at hand, it’s just around the corner and fetched in a hurry.  This is the home of obsessive people, and that’s probably as it should be.surgeon's story mark oristano

This Is What It Looks Like

surgeon's story  mark oristano


This is what it looks like.  The patient in sterile drapes.  The light focused on the job at hand.  The chest cut open by scalpel and saw, and the talented hands of Dr. Guleserian and others on the team working on minute body parts in a tight working space.  It’s doubtful you’d find more precision at a watchmaking academy.

Removing the Old Heart

Rylynn's diseased heart after removal.

Rylynn’s diseased heart after removal.

Rylynn’s diagnosis of Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome meant that she basically had no left ventricle, the chamber which pumps oxygenated blood to the aorta for its journey around the body.
This is Rylynn’s original heart, obviously after it was removed during her transplant. You can see a plastic tube at the top, which is a remnant of the Berlin Heart, the ventricular assist device which kept her alive while awaiting transplant.
Obviously, the heart she was given was in much better shape.

It’s All Connected

As in so many areas of life, in medicine things are connected. Things like the heart and the brain. Cardiothoracic surgeons can fix the heart, but there are those times where, after the surgery is over, they have to deal with the effects on the brain, and emotions, and post-surgical life.
Click here for more on a story from CHOP, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.