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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New and exciting surgeries

What a great way to end the week. On Friday, I scrubbed in on another coronary artery bypass, and not only did I get to hold the heart but I helped the physician assistant harvest the vein from the leg. I have seen it done every time there is bypass surgery, but I have never been able to help out as much as I did.

After the PA pulled the vein from the leg, he needed help tying off all the small holes that the vein had. That is where I came in. After he clamped all the areas, I got to hold the clamp as he tied off the vein. Now this doesn’t sound like a tough job, but once he was done tying he taught me how to properly release the clamp from the vein. Let me tell you, this is not as easy as it looks. It took a couple of tries, but I finally got the hang of it and was able to unclamp with one hand.

Megan7.jpg I also observed a new surgery that week. On Monday, there was a mitral valve repair that turned into a mitral valve replacement. The repair did not take and the problems were too severe, so the surgeons replaced the whole valve. The mitral valve that they used was a mechanical valve.

(In photo: Megan with the two residents and mentors Dr. Suarez (left) and Dr. Bezzina.)

This was the first time that I saw a mechanical valve being placed in a patient. So far, I have seen aortic valve replacements where they put in a tissue valve. With aortic valve replacements you can insert either a tissue or a mechanical valve, but I have only seen tissue. This was a new and exciting procedure for me.

I did get to help out on one other task. On Thursday, a post-op patient had a lot of mucous in his lungs and could not cough it up. If left untreated this could lead to pneumonia, so the doctors had to perform a bronchoscopy. In this procedure, a camera is inserted into the patient through the nose and the mucous is flushed out and removed. I was able to help the doctor through the procedure and learn something new at the same time.

It has been six weeks, and every day I learn something new. Even if I have seen the surgery before, there is always a new piece of information that the doctors teach me. I have learned so much, and I am eager to learn more.

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