The Important Work of a Perfusionist

Jose Jorge has collaborated with the Pediatric Cardiology Program on five rounds as a Cardiovascular Perfusionist. A perfusionist is an essential member of the cardio-surgical team. During open heart surgery, his role is to keep the patient alive while the procedure is being performed.

Originally from Carboneras, Culiacan, Sinaloa, Jose Jorge Paez Castro, graduate of the Autonomous University of Sinaloa, began working in 2003 as a nurse at the Pediatric Hospital of Sinaloa. In 2014, he decided to study the specialty of Cardiovascular Perfusionist at the National Institute of Cardiology in Mexico City. In 2015, he returned to the Pediatric Hospital of Sinaloa to work in this area.

A perfusionist is responsible for operating the cardiopulmonary bypass machine. With this machine, blood is diverted so that it does not pass through the heart and lungs, to make the appropriate changes to maintain its function, and finally, it is then returned to the body, all without having to pass through the heart. A cardiac surgery, depending on the complexity, can last from 30 minutes to several hours, during which time, this pump must always be operating.

“My role during open heart surgery is to be the patient’s heart and lungs.” – Jose Jorge

In 2015, at the invitation of Dr. Rogelio Ortiz (team-member of the BCS Health Secretariat), José Jorge came to La Paz for the first time to participate in the 5th Pediatric Cardiac Surgery Session. At this session, he had the opportunity to train with the perfusionist Joseph Deptula, from the US medical team at Children’s Hospital and Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska. Together, they continued collaborating in subsequent rounds, until this year, when Jose Jorge took the full responsibility.

In 2016, he moved to La Paz and officially joined the local medical team of Salvatierra Hospital. Since then, he has collaborated in surgeries throughout the year, thanks to the accreditation of permanent care for children with congenital heart defects in our state.

During this 10th Round of Open Heart Surgeries, procedures for patients over 5kg were performed without the need of blood transfusions, a national achievement that allows for a better recovery of patients, which is largely due to the work of Jose Jorge during the surgeries.

Thanks to team members with ongoing training, such as Jose Jorge, who is also a member of the Mexican Society of Perfusion and Pulmonary Assistance (SOMEPEYAC as it’s known in Spanish) and the Latin American Association of Perfusionists (ALAP as it’s known in Spanish), the State Program of Pediatric Cardiology is a success.


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