Varsha in Houston

Varsha is a sophomore BBA Scholar and SMU Distinguished Scholar majoring in finance and biochemistry. This summer, she is participating in the Michael E. DeBakey Summer Surgery Program at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston.

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Lessons on the human heart

What an amazing end to an amazing week!

Wednesday, I scrubbed in for the first time with my mentor, a carotid endartrectomy. During this procedure, a surgeon cleans the plaque that builds up in the carotid arteries, thus preventing the occurrence of a stroke. Plaque tends to build up right as this artery branches to the face and the brain. The facial vein crosses the carotid artery right at this point and is clipped to the side, where it will not interfere during the procedure. After the ends of the artery have been clamped shut and a blood thinner is given, the artery is opened, the yellowish plaque is removed, a blood clotting factor is added, and the patient is stitched back up. I quickly memorized the basics, as I scrubbed in for another such surgery on Thursday.

Scrubbing in gives a better view of the entire procedure, and forces one to pay attention to the process. The surgeon will often explain the procedure in detail as he performs the surgery, further clarifying questions. Lastly, it’s hands on! The surgeon makes the student an important member of the team.

Today though, I scrubbed in with my mentor on a coronary bypass surgery! Though I had to remain standing for about four hours, and had to maintain sterility, the experience was amazing! I had to opportunity to hold the heart – the human heart – during the stitching process! In addition, I received a quick anatomy lesson on a beating heart! What an experience!

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