Luckily, I get chance to start my volunteering career in St Luke’s Episcopal Hospital of Texas Medical Center which is the largest medical center in the world. More heart surgeries are performed in the center than anywhere else in the world.
When I was called for the interview by Volunteer Coordinator, I was so excited to be there. I always wonder by seeing the Highway of Houston and after several trail, now I am able to drive on the freeway. The area of medical center looks like downtown and anyone easily can be lost inside the building. The hardest thing there is to find parking space and it cost $3 for one hour parking. Even it contains separate buildings for the parking they are always full and I need to keep on searching till 7-8th floor to find the vacant parking lot. However, later on I came to know that the volunteers do not need to pay for parking, that is definitely good thing for me.On the very first day of my interview I was unable to find parking space. Since, it is a beginning of my journey in the United States, I get overwhelmed and wandered inside the eight storied building for parking, which I had never seen during my whole life. Nonetheless, I immediately started surfing the contact address of Volunteer office of that Hospital from my Android Phone and luckily, I was able to talk with the staff of Auxiliary office. She asked me to park at Valet and give me the direction to reach there. Again, I got confused for the direction to return back from where I entered. I felt embarrassing to call her again just to ask the direction of exit. After a while I found the exit and went in front of the Hospital as instructed. Even though, I did not know the concept of Valet, I took my car over there and asked where to park with the Valet employee who was standing next to my car. He asked me to open the car door and leave the key inside the car. That made me afraid and eventually, I refused to open the door of my car. I called second time to the Volunteer Office's staff and she answered me cordially that it is safe to leave car with valet employee and asked me to bring card provided to me so that she can validate for free parking. This way I learn about Valet parking.
I am learning everything from the very beginning to start my life in the United States. Even though I am enjoying doing that, sometimes it keeps me in deep thought by realizing how backward we are. The worlds of science fiction abound with wonders. Yet modern technology progresses so rapidly that what may be today’s wild dream may be next year’s kitchen appliances. I learned various things about heart surgeries from Lin Perez while volunteering as Tour Guide in surgical dome and Texas heart museum. Lin Perez is a retired RN and volunteering in St. Luke Episcopal Hospital for 11 year. She always shares her experiences and I often get curious and keep on asking questions with keen interest to learn about the surgeries and nursing practices of the America. Also, I get chance to see lots of open heart surgeries and human heart transplantation during my volunteering work and came to know that first human heart transplantation and total artificial heart transplantation were done in the St. Luke by Denton A. Cooley. This is so exciting for me to hear Lin talking with other Nurses about Dr. Cooley because they had seen the surgery done by him and had worked with Cooley personally in between their career. According to them, He is the most fasted surgeon and able to do the open heart surgeries in very short period of time and amaze the world. Because of my interest to learn about it, she gave me a book which was written by Denton A. Cooley “100,000 Hearts”. When I am reading this book, I think you may be interested to know about him and about his autograph. Even I cannot post all page of book, I am writing this from INTRODUCTION part of book. Here you go……………
“Okay, Domingo, let’s see how well this thing works in a human being.” Dr. Domingo Liotta gave me quick thumbs up as a nurse placed the artificial heart in my hands. The date was April 4, 1969, and the setting was Operating Room I AT St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital, in Houston, Texas. Domingo and I were standing over the anesthetized form of Haskell Karp, a forty seven year old man whose heart I had just removed. Scarred and useless, it reminded me of a deflated basketball. I was ready to replace this failed heart with a plastic pump that Domingo and I had designed and tested in calves. We hoped that artificial heart would keep Mr. Karp alive until a suitable donor heart could be found for transplantation. As he lay before us on the operating table, he had no respiration or pulse of his own. His circulation was being supported by a heart-lung machine.
Nobody had ever tried to use an artificial heart in a human being before. This would be a supreme test not only of my skill as a surgeon but also of my judgment as a physician. I would soon be trading the bright lights of the operating room for the glare of public opinion. My critics would be eager to pounce, seeing this operation not as an attempt to save my patient but as a bid for the surgical limelight.
At the end of the procedure, however, I felt optimistic. The plastic pump took over Mr. Karp’s circulation without any problems. His condition immediately began to improve. Before long, he was conscious and able to move his fingers and toes. I could hardly believe how smoothly everything had gone.
The first implant of a total artificial heart is probably the operation for which I am best known. But there’s much more to my story than that one procedure. I am very fortunate to have taken part in the renowned 1944 “blue baby” operation at Johns Hopkins Hospital, which marked the dawn of heart surgery, and in most of the subsequent major developments in the field. As of 2001, I and my team at the Texas Heart Institute had operated on more than 100,000 human hearts. Many of those procedures also involved surgical breakthroughs, and we’re still making them- thousands of hearts later.
What formative influences and twists of fate led me to achieve what I did? How would I like to be remembered by future generations? Over the years, there have been many stories about me in the news media, but they may not necessarily reflect the way things actually happened. Some of my closest associates are familiar with those stories and even took part in them. They urged me to write my memoirs and set the record straight to the best of my recollection. They also thought that others might be inspired by learning how a shy young man became a famous heart surgeon.
I promise to keep on writing about my experiences in upcoming days as well.Thank you so much for reading my blog.