Perfusion China: Part II: An Interview with Anna lou Villena


Anna lou Villena of the Republic of the Philippines- Working in China

To view the ENTIRE interview series- click here

Editor’s Note:

I met Anna Lou through contacts on Facebook- I don’t have a direct link to her FB profile, but it was through some other friends that I was finally able to contact her ask her to do an interview here on ‘Surfers.

So here is how we got to the interview:


Dear Frank,

Hi! Good to hear from you. Asking me, KUMUSTA KA? Well, I’m doing great here and thank you. I hope you’re doing well too.

Yes, sure! It is indeed my pleasure to be interviewed for circuit surfers. Actually I read your interview with Weng and I was the one referred by Weng as the perfusionist who left for Albania (Southeast Europe).

Just to prime a bit with my background as a Perfusionist,I was the sole Perfusionist in DavaoCity particularly in Davao Doctor’s Heart Institute (private hospital) and for MindanaoHeartCenter (government hospital) since 2005 when DavaoCity started to do heart surgeries. I left my job in the Philippines in 2010 since I was offered for a job in Albania by an Austrian surgeon, Dr. Roland Fasol,married to a Filipina. So I’ve worked with his team in The GErman Hospital in Albania from Dec 2010 to 2012. Fortunately, my surgeon wanted to settle in Asia and an opportunity was given to him in China for JilinHeartHospital, that is why, he also brought me here since October 2012.

Dr. Fasol is an adult cardiothoracic surgeon but there is also a Chinese doctor here, Dr. Guo who is doing the pediatric surgeries. All  the kids with  CHDs are actually sponsored by the Jilin Heart Foundation so we do more of VSD – ASD closures and TOF corrections. 

I would be glad to share more of my experiences working in 3 different countries with different culture and  totally different languages. My experience in the perfusion field was not just enhanced but the best part of it,is that my ability to adjust and deal with different kinds of people with diversified culture has also uplifted my dispositions in life.Please feel free to write me for the details of the interview and I would also retrieve some photos in preparation for this interview.

I should say that my dream to be involved in a perfusion forum is now taking off. I was actually curious with what Weng updated in her facebook and so I started surfing for the circuit surfer’s website. 

I sincerely commend you Frank for this initiative for making a forum in the perfusion field all over the world. I think this is the best tool to be updated with the new studies in perfusion and in a way introduce our profession since it is said to be a low profile job-i mean most people would say,.. “Come again?  What is your profession?”   hehehe :


Best regards,


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The Asian Equation – Anna Lou Villena




Describe your life when you first engaged medicine, what made you decide to go into perfusion, what were the circumstances for getting into a perfusion program?



I graduated Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology, a four-year degree preparatory course for Medicine proper. Initially before going into University school, I wanted to become a doctor, but in life as they say, the only constant thing in this world is- CHANGE. I got married and  decided to work immediately to sustain my family. I took and passed the licensure exam for Medical Technology in 2001 and fortunately hired by one of the prestigious private hospital in Davao City, Philippines. I have been working in the Pathology department rotated in different areas: phlebotomy, hematology, microbiology, clinical chemistry, serology and blood banking. For 3 years, I have been dedicated in my chosen field and fortunately my hard work and dedication was recognized by my Chief Medical Technologist. In 2003, our hospital was planning to open the first Cardiac center for Mindanao and I was one of the chosen few to be trained for 3 months at St. Lukes’s Medical Center in Manila. I was approached to be trained for Perfusion and honestly I don’t have any idea about this job. I just accepted the offer bearing in mind that opportunity comes only once and obviously a good career move if I’ll undergo various trainings and specializations.

Since there is no formal education for Perfusion program in the Philippines, my 3 months training at St. Luke’s Medical Center was not enough because I was only exposed to theoretical approach and circuit set-up. So, in the mid of 2004, the hospital sent me again for another 6 months training at Philippine Heart Center in Manila. The 6 months training was tough but once you were able to understand the mechanism and control the HLM knob, clutch the tube clamps independently, I must say “Once you pump, You can’t stop!”

This was the turning point in my life when I decided that I should grow in this profession and consequently embraced the risk and challenges into making it now as my passion.





Where do you / have you  practiced perfusion?  If outside of your own country- then why?



From 2005 – November 2010 – I was working for two cardiac hospitals in Davao City, Philippines (Davao Doctor’s Hospital and Mindanao Heart Center).

From December 2010 – September 2012 – I worked in The German Hospital –Albania (Southeast Europe). This is a small specialized cardiac clinic in the center of Albania initiated by an Austrian Cardiothoracic Surgeon, Dr. Roland Fasol.

From October 2012 up to present time – I am happily working at Jilin Heart Hospital, Changchun, China.


An additional perspective …

            Deciding to leave my country, my work place and of course my family was somewhat nostalgic. However, it is a sad reality in the Philippines that no matter how specialized you are in your field, compensatory benefits are not enough for making one’s dream a reality.

            Reality dictates and practicality persists within me that I have to prepare a bright future for my 2 daughters, and that is to look for a greener pasture abroad. In a deeper sense, knowing my capacity and passion for this profession, I am optimistic that by working internationally and be able to work with foreign surgeons, I could acquire an accreditation as a globally recognized Perfusionist since basically the Perfusion program in the Philippines doesn’t have a formal curriculum.

            True enough, it is a blessing in disguise that I was able to work with a good hearted surgeon, Dr. Fasol. Allow me to give credit to a boss and a friend who has paved a way to enhance my skill, got the chance to work with other foreign doctors, taught me how to harvest saphenous vein as an additional skill, and brought me to another country to help him share his expertise in the field of Cardiac surgery. Though my EBCP accreditation was not pursued since we moved in to China last year, but I am still hopeful that an international accreditation will just be at a perfect time.

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To be continued …

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