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PHS -CC students watch live heart surgery

Debbie Pohlmann and students get chance of a life-time

It's not every day a high school student with dreams of becoming a doctor gets to watch a live open-heart surgery. For 73 Plainfield Central High School students, they had that very opportunity.

The surgery was held on Wednesday, Feb. 5 from the Heart program at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.

Students from Debbie Pohlmann's human anatomy and physiology class have participated in this event for the last six years, and she added that there's nothing quite like the experience.

"There is nothing to compare to like watching a live surgery," Pohlmann said. "It never gets old, it's truly amazing to see. "We never know until we get there what the patient will be in need of, and therefore it is scheduled for that morning."

In order to see the surgery, students had to sign up to go on the field trip to Christ Hospital.

In the past, there have been valve replacements, bypass surgery and both of those as well as a full heart transplant.

The students are in an auditorium where they can see the surgery live as it happens, and the surgery itself happens right across the hall.

"Because we're so close to the actual surgery room, we can hear and basically feel what is going on," Pohlmann said.

Microphones are placed in the auditorium so students can ask questions of the surgical team, and the surgical team members all wear microphones to answer any of the questions the students might have.

The surgery itself this year lasted two-plus hours, and was viewed by more than 200 students from other local high schools, not just from Plainfield Central.

This year, the surgical team performed a coronary artery bypass graft surgery, where the team had to remove two veins from the patient's legs and grafted them to his heart to bypass veins that had hardened up.

During the surgery, in order to help explain more of the situation to the students, the operating room team discussed what they were doing to the patient as they proceeded to work on them.

Each member of the team also explained their jobs in the field as they worked, and also talked about how much schooling is required for each specific role, why they enjoy their job so much and how they got started in the field.

The hospital staff also disseminated examples of equipment that was used in the patient's surgery that included a saw, the protective covering placed on patients and a pen-like tool used to cauterize veins.

"They have been running this program since 2006 I believe," Pohlmann said. "It's a great experience and opportunity for everyone that is involved, we're very grateful for Christ Hospital."


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