From Saigon to Facebook: An Interview With a Veteran Perfusionist & a Veteran of Foreign Wars

Be willing to work many hours, often times in a very stressful situation where the human life; both adult and infant are at stake.

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Editors Note:

There is a guy I work with down here in West Texas, who helps us out with ABG’s, art lines, monitoring, Swanns, IABP’s, and a whole slew of other things.

His name is Larry, and he’s been around awhile. 

Larry is Vietnam veteran who was attached to an artillery unit while in-country.  So who would expect an ex-artilleryman to be working beside you in a heart room, let alone the fact that he was a practicing perfusionist before most of us had even heard of the field.

This guy shows up everyday and gives everything to the case at hand, and has a tremendous reservoir of perfusion knowledge that most of the time he keeps to himself (I suppose he figures we “know it all” – but we don’t…).

Anyway, he is my friend and someone whom I respect greatly.  As well, he put his life on the line for this great country, and THAT is something no one should ever bypass- when assessing the caliber of this man.

The Generations Between War & Facebook

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Larry’s version of “Facebook”

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That Was Then …

This is Now …

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Larry on an Italian Perfusion Facebook page … Click on image to view FB page

Talking With …

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Hi Larry

I want to thank you for taking the time to participate in this interview for CircuitSurfers.com.

I appreciate the time that we have worked together, and am looking forward to asking you some questions about your migration from Vietnam artillery man, to THI graduate and practicing perfusionist.

So let’s begin:

The Interview:

Q1

Can you tell me a bit about yourself, how you went from the Vietnam war as a Marine in a field artillery unit- to becoming a clinical perfusionist?  Give me a little history on you as a Marine- what you saw in Vietnam that compelled you to go into medicine?

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Born in 1946 in Austin, and raised in Dallas. Father was Marine in ww11, and veteran of the battle of Midway. After gradutation for high school in 1965 I joined in June, 1965. After boot camp, had training in basic combat infrantry, and then on to Artillery school at Camp Pendleton, in Calif.

After 30 days leave returned to Pendleton for 30 days training be sailing to Vietnam in March, 1965. Joined my unit, 1st. 8 inch Howitzer Battery (SP), third Marine Division. Mostly we supported the “grunts” in Operations throughout northern, I corp area of operations.

Returning to the states 18 months later was assigned to Camp LeJeune, North Carolina. After one year I ask for return to Vietnam. Returned to my same 8 inch howitzer unit in I corp again.

Returned to Calif. for discharge in Aug. 1969.Was taking basic first year college courses in Dallas for the next year and a half. I moved to Lubbock in 1972, so as to be with my future wife.

As she was attending Nursing School at this hospital, she suggested I try attending Surgical Tech school; which lasted one year. Upon graduation we were married in 1973. Just was interested in medicine all my life..”

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Q2:

Please describe your perfusion program, what type of training you received, what the educational requirements were to get into a perfusion program, length of the program, and how you found a job as a new graduate?

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Attended Texas Heart school of perfusion, in 1982.; was currently employed by surgical group of CV surgeons as their private surgical tech.Leaving the school after 6 months I returned home and did another 6 months of training with the perfusionist that I had been working with. 

At Texas Heart we trained using the Shilley H-100, and Harvey bubble oxygenators. Returning to Lubbock, we were still using the Travanol T.M.O. membrane oxygenators. and moving up to the Cobe VPCML, for both adults and pedi..”

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Q3:

Please describe the hospital setting you worked in as a perfusionist, the types of equipment you used (IABP, Cell saver, HLM, Labs, VADs, etc…).  Describe your ECC circuit.

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We were using the Sarns 5000 pump, and eventually started using the Biomedicus non-occulasive pump along with the Cobe-stockered pumps in the late 1980’s.

The surgeons here were private practice, as well as the perfusionist. I was working as contract labor under the direction of these surgeons and the other perfusionist.The other equipment was the Brat I and Brat II cellsavers, the Datascope IABP, and used the Biomedicus for all Vads.”

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Q4:

Tell me what you think are the most significant strides in the field of perfusion- since you started in the field.

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The greatest strides are the computerization of the pumps, the complete pre-packing of the sterile circuits as complete sterile unit along with the cardioplegic dilivery system and items  like the hemoconcerators. More efficient membranes, and heat exchangers.”

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Q5:

What role do you feel social media plays in today’s perfusion society?  How important is the impact of smart phones, perfusion blogs, Twitter, and facebook in terms of facilitating perfusion dialogue on a state, national, and international level?

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The main role of the social media is the rapid ability to access the vast stockpile of knowledge on a worldwide scale, exchange that info from worldwide.”

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Q6:

What advice do you have for new grads, as well as people considering entering the field of perfusion?

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New grads should do alot of searching, and evaluation of the many programs doing heart and CV surgery, both in Community hospitals and the teaching hospitals affiliated with large universities such as Texas Tech,  and Stanford, where the doctors are training as a Surgeon, cardiologist, and internist. 

Those interested in Perfusion should have a good background in medicine, and knowledge of the human anatomy and physiology. Be willing to work many hours, often times in a very stressful situation where the human life; both adult and infant are at stake.”

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