Saturday, July 31, 2010

Week 7 - Carissa

This last week I spent most of my time on my research project, but I did get into the operating room one last time. I watched as Dr. Giardi and his team replaced a man's aortic heart valve and froze parts of his heart to get rid of the source of his arrhythmia. I was amazed to see that the heart valve they removed was so fragile and shapeless. They implanted a bovine biovalve attached to a synthetic graft to replace parts of the aorta that they had to remove with the valve tissue. The whole procedure was the most intense I have witnessed during my stay here. For the most part, I've shadowed plastic surgeons up until this point, and now I have come to the conclusion that they are somewhat a breed of their own. Cardiothoracic surgeons don't explain much, or really use any extra words at all. Fortunately the lady running the Cell Saver (to send lost blood back to the patient) and the OR nurse were kind enough to explain what was happening throughout the procedure. Hopefully the patient will go home and recover fully.

My research project has been going very well for the past few weeks, and I am excited to say that it has resulted in a collaboration between Dr. Spector's lab and my academic advisor Mike King at Cornell's campus in Ithaca. The next few weeks I will be focussing entirely on getting the next phase of the project off the ground and I will be submitting an abstract for a surgery conference in California to present the work. I couldn't think of a better way to end the summer. It has been a great experience over all. I've learned a lot, and it was a good time to connect basic research in a lab to clinical applications that doctors actually use to treat or diagnose patients. It gives a bit of a different perspective as I go back to my regular work in Ithaca.

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