Posted on 16 June, 2016

Open Heart International’s team in Ahmedabad consists of the following individuals. Each of them plays an important role. But what exactly does each person do?
For those of you close to OHI or in the medical profession, these titles are probably familar. However, for those of us who are laymen, a brief explanation is included:
Yishay Orr
Cardiothoracic Surgeon

The surgeon is the person who does the main procedure on the patient, in the case of this OHI paediatric team, Yishay is spending the week operating the young patients to repair their hearts. A majority of the patients have heart defects which involve the 4 chambers of the heart not being adequately separated from each other, therefore allowing blood flow between them. Thus the function of the heart to pump oxygen-poor blood to the lungs and oxygen-rich blood to the body is reduced or compromised. The repairs sometimes involve inserting new valves, other times placing a patch to cover a hole connecting two ventricles which should not be connected, amongst other procedures.

Matthew Crawford & Justin Skowno
Paediatric Anaesthetists

The role of the anaesthetist is to safely put the patient under anaesthetic for the duration of the surgery, to carefully monitor many body parameters before, during and after the procedure and to keep the patient healthy and stable so that the surgery can take place. After the surgeon is done with the procedure, the anaesthetist, together with the perfusionist is key in the process of “switching the heart back on” and eventually also in bringing patient back up to consciousness after the surgery. The anaesthetist also communicates with the ICU team after the surgery to hand over the patient from the OR to the ICU.

Mahesh Govindasamy
Paediatric Perfusionist

The perfusionist is the specialist in operating the heart-lung machine, which, as its name implies, is the machine that takes over the pumping and oxygenating of the blood during bypass. Bypass is the time during which the patient’s blood is not going to his/her heart, but instead being delivered to the machine and back while the heart is usually stopped to work on it. During bypass, the chemical composition and functions of the blood in the body are controlled with the machine, mostly to mimick what would normally happen in the body. The perfusionist is also in charge of lowering and raising the patient’s temperature, as well as creating the conditions necessary to stop the heart (on purpose, of course!) during the surgery.

Maree Standaloft & Kym Stewart
Scrub nurses

The scrub nurses are the persons in charge of helping the surgeon perform the operation. They are, in a way, an extention of the surgeon’s hands and brain, always one step ahead, preparing all the necessary instruments & devices and taking away those that are not needed anymore. The name of the position has to do with the fact that they “scrub into” the surgeries. As individuals who work directly on the operating table, they must wear sterile green gowns and sterile latex gloves (like the surgeons).

Amelia Griffiths & Louise Jennings
ICU nurses

The Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurse’s role is to keep the patients stable while in the ICU, both before and after the surgery, but particularly after. As the patients wake up from anaesthesia, they need to be “extubated” (the breathing tube extracted from their throat), and their various body parameters must be monitored and maintained within target levels (heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature…), Besides keeping the patients alive and well by monitoring their levels, amongst the ICU nurses tasks are: feeding the patients intravenously and keeping them hydrated, keeping them from getting infections, administering the various injections, as well as administering a huge dose of love,cuddles and compassion to the young children who are often afraid and in pain. This might even include giving them a toy or soap bubbles to make their day.

Ben Anderson
Paediatric Cardiologist

The cardiologist is “the heart doctor”. A cardiologist job starts with diagnosing the patient (with the help of an examination as well as by interpreting things like a heart ultrasound and blood tests). With this diagnosis, the cardiologist and heart surgeon discuss whether the problem is operable, and if so, on a plan of action for the surgery. After surgery, the main task is to following up on their progress throughout their stay in hospital including supervising the medication and physical therapy amongst others.

Eric Schaechter
Marketing / Communications

On OHI trips, the role of communications person is to feed back to OHI headquarters in Sydney as often as possible with the progress of the trip. This is done with photos and video as well as with blog entries so that OHI can show to the wider public and especially to potential donors, the fantastic, life-saving efforts they do all over the world.

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