Imagine an open-heart surgery in progress. The heart-lung machine that keeps the blood circulating and supplies oxygen to vital organs suddenly goes dead. The rest is at best left unsaid. Hence the role of a perfusionist who handles the heart-lung machine is equal to that of a cardiac surgeon who performs the operation successfully. “Perfusionist plays very vital role in case of cardiac arrest. When heart fails to pump the blood to start extra corporeal life support we need perfusionist. For organ harvesting and protection of organs perfusionist plays very important role. Perfusionist keeps the circulation on when heart fails and perfuse all the organs,” explains Dr. Suneel Kumar Lakkipogu, Chief Perfusionist at Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugaon. Hence the perfusionist’s role is crucial as the heart-lung machine keeps a patient’s blood pumping. This machine circulates, oxygenates and purifies the patient’s blood when patient is still in surgery.
Duration & Eligibility
BSc (Perfusion Technology) is a 3-year course offered at JIPMER; KLE Academy of Higher Education & Research (KLE University); Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research, Chandigarh. The course structure involves six months of internship. After completing your degree, you can either go for a job or can go for postgraduate studies in the same subject offered at KLE Academy of Higher Education & Research and AIIMS Delhi. Though the job roles may be the same with a Bachelor’s or a Master’s, the latter opens up more job avenues including teaching and research. “It really doesn’t matter because ultimately you are performing the same work. Master’s might be helpful if you want to go on teaching side,” said Dr. Suneel.
Course: BSc (Perfusion Technology)
Duration: 3 year
Eligibility: Physics, Chemistry & Biology with minimum 50% marks in aggregate at 10+2
Fee: Rs. 1.38 lakhs at KLE Academy of Higher Education & Research, Belagavi
Top Institutes in India: KLE Academy of Higher Education & Research, KLE University (BSc/MSc); JIPMER (BSc); AIIMS, Delhi (MSc); Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research, Chandigarh (BSc); St. John’s Medical College, Bangalore (BSc); Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences, Puttaparthi (BSc)
Top Institutes abroad: The University of Montreal, Ohio State University
What do you study?
First year of BSc (Perfusion Technology) teaches about the basic structure of human body along with physiology which is the study of functions of living organisms and their parts; biochemistry which is the science concerned with the chemical processes and substances which occur within our body. Subjects like clinical pathology teaches about how to diagnose the disease using various laboratory tools and microbiology teaching about various microorganisms like bacteria, viruses and fungi and their effect on human body. Second year teaches about medicines that are important for perfusion technology along with pathology, which is the branch of science focussed on treating the essential nature of disease and subjects like pharmacology which is the study of drugs like their origin, and effect on human body. Third year focuses on clinical and applied aspects of perfusion technology.
Perfusionist mainly works in operating rooms of hospitals and surgical centres. Before and during the operation, they would perform following functions:
Working alongside surgeons & other medical staff in operation theatre.
Monitoring and adjusting heart-lung machine that does the work of a patient’s heart and lungs while he or she undergoes a surgery and ensuring proper functioning of heart-lung machine so that surgeons can perform the operation without worrying about the impact on the patient’s blood circulation and breathing.
Control the equipment
Monitor readings from the heart-lung machine
Adjusting the levels of chemicals and gases in the patient’s blood.
Keeping the team informed about the patient’s condition.
Those with experience in the field can also work for perfusion equipment suppliers as sales and marketing executives for perfusion products. They can also choose a career as perfusion educator. So take heart. Even if you don’t become a doctor, you will always be in demand as long as surgeries are there.
Dr. B.V. Sai Chandran
Head of Department
Careers360: Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of mortality in India. How crucial is the role of perfusionists in this scenario?
Dr. B.V. Sai Chandran: Undoubtedly the role of perfusionist in saving a cardiac patient during an operation is equivalent to that of a cardiac surgeon and a cardiac anaesthesiologist. Even a simple error of the perfusionist can tilt the outcome towards disaster. This holds true while operating complex procedures and also when operating on the patients at extremes of age. Unlike yesteryears, currently perfusionists are expected to operate too many hi-tech equipment such as heart lung machine, IABP, Cell saver, ECMO, Ventricular assist devices, etc. Hence a perfusionist needs to be thoroughly knowledgeable and should acquire skills through systematic training.
Careers360: What are the career options after B.Sc (Perfusion Technology)?
Dr. B.V. Sai Chandran: A good, talented and experienced perfusionist is an asset to the department. He can be appointed as a perfusionist in multiple areas such as cardiac surgical room and ICU and Cardiology ICU – for operating heart lung machine, IABP, ECMO, VAD, etc, Medicine ICU, & Pediatric ICU- for ECMO, Emergency medicine department (for cardiopulmonary resuscitation with femorofemoral cannulation), Oncology (for HIPEC), for isolated limb perfusion (during chemotherapy, and also for perfusing the dismembered limb till it is re-implanted and also in Neurosurgical Operation room for establishing deep hypothermic circulatory arrest and also during any major operative procedure with expected bleeding.
Careers360: Is there any difference between the subject of study taught abroad and in India?
Dr. B.V. Sai Chandran: There is not much difference between the subject of study taught abroad and in India provided the training is offered in reputed institutes with adequate teachers and with standard curriculum and assessment methods. In India the perfusionists are underestimated as mere technicians and fixed at meagre compensation. In the West, they are treated as professionals such as engineers.
Q. How can we make this programme more robust in India?
Dr. B.V. Sai Chandran: The professional status has to be elevated by standardizing curriculum structure and the training course should be permitted to be scheduled only in reputed Government/private institutes of high standards.
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