Saturday, January 9, 2016

Day 4 of Subinternship: A touch of heart

Yep. As the title suggests, today was the first time I touched a person's beating heart with my bear hands.

The surgery procedure was aortic hemiarch replacement. I had always wanted to see how an aorta surgery was done so it was perfect.

Professor Joo was in charge and even though we met for the first time, he was friendly and took interest in my presence. I really can't thank him enough.

After cardiopulmonary bypass, stitching of the artificial aorta, and resuscitation, the heart was beating. The rib cage was still open and you could see the heart beating at a regular pace. It was then when the professor asked me if I had ever touched a beating heart. I said no. He told me to take a go. So I nervously touched the surface of the heart for about 5 seconds and shied away, fearing that I might harm the patient. The professor seemed to have noticed my concerns and he took my hand and placed it on the heart. This time, I probably had 20 more seconds to feel the heart beat. He said, "pretty warm eh?" The doctors and nurses surrounding us giggled. I didn't quite understand why, but later I found out that Professor Joo was imitating the popular department head, Dr. Park, who used to tell his students who touched the heart for the first time, "Isn't the heart warm? My wish is that you'll also become a warm doctor." (The translation is awkward, but this is the closest I can get haha)

Nevertheless, I was thankful for allowing me to experience this rare event.

I think my dreams of wanting to become a cardiac surgeon has been reaffirmed. Moreover, I think I am leaning towards in specializing in aortic surgery.

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