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Today's lesson? Open Heart Surgery
Today's lesson? Open Heart Surgery
Sabrina Kapp
Thursday, May 17, 2018

Over one hundred PHS students spent an extended class period yesterday in a darkened auditorium, but it's a pretty sure thing that no one dozed off. 

Pictured above, the Nurse Practitioner began harvesting a vein from the patient's leg before the surgeon made his first incision. She also discussed her path to obtaining her Nurse Practitioner's license.

Biomedical Studies instructor A.J. McAdams arranged for his classes to observe, in real-time, an open heart surgery being performed in the University of Chicago's teaching hospital. With an online facilitator from the Museum of Science and Industry, and fellow high school students from Illinois and Michigan, the highly interactive session brought together many of the lessons learned in McAdams' classes this year. 

Above: 1. A view of the patient's vein as the nurse practitioner cleans and dissects it in preparation for its new use in the heart. 2. The vein once it was removed, confirming that it would work well in the procedure.

The patient, a 72 year old female, came to the emergency room in the midst of a heart attack. Obese, diabetic, and with many other risk factors, open heart surgery was her best option.

Above: 1. The surgeon preparing the chest cavity to access the heart. 2. Preparing the heart to go on bypass for the duration of the repair. 

While the surgical team was focused on the procedure, they were also able to explain each step of their process, even responding to questions from students. Cameras were located throughout the operating suite, including up-close from the head gear of the surgeon and nurses, making the experience as much like being there in-person as you could hope for. 

Above: 1. The perfusionist is turning on the heart-lung machine. 2. Watching the heart-lung machine take over the work of the heart.

While this was an unusual and exciting day, it was also the culmination of the lessons McAdams' classes have been working on all year. For many, it was excellent preparation for the studies they hope to continue in college. 

Many thanks to the University of Chicago for their efforts to bring these experiences to life for high school students!