If your child has a congenital heart condition that requires surgery, he or she may need to have heart surgery at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone. During surgery, it may be necessary to stop the heart from beating in order for the surgical team to safely and effectively perform the operation.
A perfusionist is a highly trained health professional who is in charge of placing your child on what is commonly known as the heart–lung machine. This machine does the work of your child’s heart and lungs by moving blood outside of the body, oxygenating it, and returning the blood back into the body.
The perfusionist ensures that the circulatory and respiratory needs of your child are being met. He or she keeps the surgeon fully informed of any changes, which allows the rest of the cardiac surgery team to focus on the actual surgical procedure.
In addition to the operation of the heart–lung machine, perfusionists have specialized supportive roles in blood conservation for the entire operating room and management of mechanical circulatory devices, such as the ventricular assist device (VAD) and the extracorporeal membrane oxygenator (ECMO), which both provide advanced life support if necessary. The perfusion team is dedicated to constant training and education in order to provide the best possible care and safety for our patients.
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