Posted on 30 May, 2018

After three full days spent at the UN Mehta Institute, everyone in the Open Heart International (OHI) team have found their niche (role) and are working hand in hand with their Indian counterparts. Since the very first trip I did with OHI, one thing stands out, and it is that heart surgery is a team sport. Everybody is important in the whole process. Based on the experience gathered two years ago, this year’s team consists of the following team members. Let me briefly introduce you to them and to their roles (in non-medical terms!)

Paediatric cardiac (heart) surgeon: Dr. Yishay Orr

Yishay’s role, apart from being the coordinator and leader of our team, is to operate on the little patient’s hearts. Most operations involve repairing a heart that doesn’t workproperly since birth.

Anaesthetist: Dr. Greg Moloney

To be able to undergo surgery, the little patients need to be put to sleep. It is Greg’s responsibility to do this in a safe manner, considering amongst other things the health, strength and size of the patient.

Intensivist: Dr. Matt Crawford (AKA Uncle Matty)

The intensivist is the person who oversees the work in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU). She or he is also able to make some medical decisions that may be beyond a nurse’s expertise, and coordinate the care plan together with the surgeons and nurses.

Theatre Nurse: Kym Stuart

A theatre nurse (also called scrub nurse) is a person who scrubs into the surgery alongside the surgeons, to assist in the operation. While the surgeon concentrates on theprocedure at hand, the scrub nurse assists her or him in all the processes, almost serving as a second brain and a third and fourth hand to the surgeon. Good experienced surgeon + scrub nurse duos are often thinking in unison during a procedure, with the scrub nurse almost always knowing exactly what the surgeon will need next.

ICU Nurses:Kim Morris, Amelia Griffiths,Nicolle Mills and Ania Berent
Left to right, top to bottom: pic 1 ICU team pic, pic 2 Amelia and Ania (left to right), pic 3 Nicole, Pic 4 Ania (right), Pic 5 Kim (left), pic 6 Ania and Nicole (left to right)

The role of the ICU nurses on our trip cannot be underestimated. No wonder we brought 4 of them! The ICU nurses are the ones providing care to the patients after the operation, basically keeping them alive and well in the critical first hours and days post-surgery. They make sure the patients are breathing, with the expected heart rate and blood pressure, fed, clean… with the help of a lot electronic monitoring they supervise the patients constantly. On this particular trip, our ICU nurses are playing an educational role, giving lectures and showing the local team some of the protocols followed in Australia.

Physiotherapist: Gail Nankivell

The physiotherapists role is to help the patients become strong again, especially because after their surgery, they have some pretty painful wounds and are starting to scar. It’s important to start moving again, to get strong again, to heal.

Media Liasion (photography and blogging): Eric Schaechter (ME)

My role is to document the work of the team, and it is an absolute pleasure to do so. I learn so much from everybody all the time! As somebody who works with images, I capture and process still pictures and video, then upload it and write a short blog post to go with them.


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