Letters From Ecuador: Getting Started [4]

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Editor’s Note:

I want to thank Margaret R. Harrington, who was a perfusion student close to graduation, and volunteered her time to work with The International Children’s Heart Foundation (ICHF) and Brian Forsberg, MPH, CCP, on a pediatric mission to Ecuador.  The following is her narrative and insight- as well as her photography of the events and the great story that transpired.

Ms. Harrington is now a CCP and working as a perfusionist. 


Getting Started …

Upon meeting Mr. Brian Forsberg, MPH, CCP (the perfusionist I would shadow during the trip) I knew he would be great to work with. Patient, relaxed, and always good at explaining even difficult concepts, he runs his cases with control and confidence, even during times of stress. And he let me pump most of our cases.

We spent our two week mission working at the Hospital Francisco de Ycaza Bustamente, the public children’s hospital of Guayaquil.


Empty Cupboards …

During our first days, I felt a bit lost and longed for the “amenities” of the University of Iowa Hospital that I’d grown so comfortable with (and had inevitably taken for granted) during my clinicals: our drawers upon drawers of organized cannulas, our abundant cupboards always stocked full of any type of connectors or adapters one could possibly need; brand-new, labeled, and neatly stocked.

Our vast and orderly shelves of assorted tubing packs and myriad drugs, syringes, fluids, pressure transducers, tubing clamps, etc. I missed the reliability of our modern and predictable equipment, along with the sense of familiarity it had always provided.

Even luxuries as simple as functioning clocks suddenly seemed a fleeting commodity (oddly, there were several clocks throughout the OR yet none of them worked).


Intercepted:  On It’s Way To The Smithsonian Institute…

The pump we used was an anomaly in and of itself; an old back-up pump that we had to borrow from a neighboring hospital in Guayaquil since the children’s hospital currently does not have a pump of its own.

Thankfully, I never had the pleasure of experiencing the random and sporadic shocks our pump decided to inflict on occasion; Brian, however, was not so lucky, and there was one time when I could actually hear the zap! Needless to say, it was a somewhat frightening piece of equipment.

In addition, our pump did not come with a hand-crank, but luckily we were able to borrow one from another hospital across town. During what turned out to be our busiest OR day we experienced several intermittent (and somewhat lengthy) power outages, which are apparently common throughout the city. Fortunately, we never experienced a power loss while on bypass, and therefore were never forced to use the hand-crank.

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