Students get their Chance at Seeing a Real Change of Heart
Thursday, April 28, 2016

On Wednesday, April 20th, the Lincoln-Way East and Lincoln-Way North Anatomy and Physiology students were invited to The Advocate Heart Institute at Christ Medical Center's "Live from the Heart" program as part of their educational outreach program. Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn is a Level 1 trauma center, has the most comprehensive heart program in Illinois and is a teaching hospital to support future health professionals.

Lincoln-Way students had the opportunity to view a live cardiac procedure. Students began participating in "Live from the Heart" ten years ago when teacher Andy Lapicki initiated the opportunity. During the experience, students were able to interact with surgical team members and learn about their respective roles.

"Throughout the years, we have seen bypass surgeries and valve replacements, but this year was even more special as the students were able to view a heart transplant," said teacher Camille Gonzalez-Jensen.

Teacher Scott Fletcher described it as a "once in a life time experience that exposed our students to the incredible capabilities of contemporary medicine."

Many students shared their reactions to the experience:

One of the goals of the program is to encourage students to make healthier choices to avoid heart disease in the future. "It was cool to be able to understand some of what the doctors were saying because of what we learned in class. I also liked being able to see the difference in the heart, which had heart disease, and the donor heart, which looked perfect. I could only imagine what it was like for the doctors who got to hold the human heart in their hands," said student Taylor Bowman.

"I was so excited to see this surgery today, and it was even better when I found out it was a heart transplant. Being able to see a triple bypass surgery over the summer allowed me to view this surgery in a different way. I was able to see it from the surgeon's perspective. The most incredible thing to see for me every time is the heart beating right in front of my eyes. It is unbelievable that they are able to take a heart from one individual and put it into another person and it will function properly. Seeing a surgery like this truly reminds us of how precious life is," said senior Natalie Ruzevich.

Ruzevich added, "Not everyone gets this opportunity when needed. However, this had made me more confident in my decision to pursue a career in the medical field. Seeing how these incredible individuals save lives every day is a team that I want to be a part of. The human body is so phenomenal and unbelievable, and I will always remember this day and how it has changed my view on life."

Mia DeTella wrote, "Observing a heart transplant was something that I never would have imagined doing my senior year in high school, and I am extremely grateful to have received the opportunity to do so. It was incredible to watch the surgeons literally give someone a second chance at life and to see firsthand the astounding capabilities of today's medicine. Watching the donor's heart begin to beat almost immediately after it was transplanted was an exhilarating experience, and viewing this surgery has definitely solidified my decision to pursue a medical career in the hopes of making a difference in the lives of my patients the way the surgeon did for the patient."

"I was able to top off the end of my high school career with the remarkable experience of seeing a heart transplant be performed. I did not know what to expect going into the day, but as we found out what type of surgery it was going to be, I knew that what I was able to see was unique and very much once in a lifetime," said senior Allison Gerk. "In the classroom, I am already amazed by the things we learn with the human body and the natural sciences, but to see how it all comes into play was incredible. The physicians, nurses and other patient care givers were able to talk us through what was happening, along with answering our endless questions. I think the most interesting part was how the donor heart is able to start beating again. Simply with just warm blood passing through it again, the contractions slowly come back. I hope for nothing but the best for the patient who received the heart, and prayers for the family of the donor.”