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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Fixing a human heart

Oh my gosh, I held a human heart on Tuesday! Let me back up a bit. On Monday, I observed the removal of a thymoma, which is a tumor on the thymus. I could not believe that the tumor was bigger than the actual thymus. Even the surgeon was amazed by the size.

Tuesday was the most amazing day for me this week. I scrubbed in for the first time with my mentor, Dr. Bakaeen, on a quadruple coronary artery bypass. I was excited just to scrub in and see the procedure up close.

However, Dr. Bakaeen had a different plan in mind for me. After the patient went on the heart-lung machine and the heart was stopped, Dr. Bakaeen turned to the scrub nurse and asked her to hand me the special glove. I pretty much knew what that meant for me and my heart started to race. Once I put the glove on Dr. Bakaeen grabbed my hand, correctly positioned it on the heart, and told me to hold it steady in order for him to graft the new vessel. Holding the heart in my hand was such a breathtaking experience. I left the operating room with a huge smile on my face.

I also scrubbed in on a triple coronary bypass this week. This time I was able to hold a clamp steady as Dr. Bakaeen tried to maneuver around the tight space. The procedure took a bit longer than expected but everything turned out fine in the end.

Scrubbing in this week allowed me to see what it is like standing over the operating table. Adrenaline rushed through my body and allowed me to focus on my task. Even though I was nervous, the heart did not slip once. Once the surgery was over, I was still filled with joy and happiness. I forgot that I had been standing for four hours and that I skipped lunch. None of that mattered to me. All I cared about was the heart that I helped fix. My task may have been small, but I felt like I contributed something. This is the feeling that I want to have every day as a surgeon.

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