Megan in Houston

Megan, a senior biology major in Dedman College, is participating in the eight-week Michael E. Debakey Summer Surgery Program in Houston, where she will work closely with a faculty mentor to learn more about careers in surgery.

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Before, during and after surgery

It has been a while since my last post, and I have a lot to talk about.

My fourth week was a short one due to the Fourth of July, but it was still really exciting. I scrubbed in that Wednesday on a triple coronary artery bypass surgery and got to hold the heart again. This was one of the longer surgeries that I scrubbed in on; it lasted almost seven hours.

Megan4.jpg This past week was my fifth week, and I was able to scrub in on an aortic valve replacement. I have observed this surgery on the monitor multiple times, but this was the first time I was able to witness it up close.

(In photo: Megan with her favorite scrub nurse Luchie.)

I was able to feel the calcified leaflets of the aortic valve as the surgeon removed them from the patient. They were as hard as a rock. It really makes me wonder how anything that hard can allow blood to be pumped at all in the heart.

This surgery presented me with another task that I did not expect. The patient formed a hematoma (a pool of blood under the skin) after the surgeon placed a line in his femoral vein. The surgeon allowed me to apply pressure to the hematoma in order to help it go down. It actually worked and the hematoma went down! I was told that I have the magic touch. Even with the hematoma, this surgery only lasted about four and a half hours.

During clinic on Monday, I had a reunion with a former patient and his wife. This patient had coronary artery bypass surgery the first day I arrived, and I met his wife in the intensive care unit. She was a little bit stressed out and just needed some emotional support during this tough time. I helped her as much as I could, and her husband was finally discharged.

On my way to clinic I saw them coming out of an exam room. It was the one-month post-op appointment and everything was going smoothly. The patient’s wife looked so much more relaxed, and the patient himself looked as good as new. They were both so happy to see me, and we hugged just before they left.

This touched me in a way that I have never felt before. Just being there for them was the best thing I could have done. Being here this long has allowed me to be with the same patients before, during, and after their surgery. This is what I call a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

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