Introducing… a perfusionist

Introducing… a perfusionist

Lee Noble is a charge perfusionist at Hamilton General Hospital, where she’s worked for 14 years.

What do you love most about your role?
The thing I love most about my job is how my colleagues and I are an integral part of a team that repairs cardiac defects and returns health and quality of life to a patient. In many cases, this can be done in a matter of hours.

What do you find challenging?
One of our goals is to constantly improve patient management through research, technique and technological innovation. Sometimes, this can be hard to do in a climate with limited resources but we always strive for everyday improvement.

Two of the most gratifying experiences occurred this year when two of my colleagues required heart surgery and they trusted us to take care of them.

Describe a typical day
In the morning, I start to review the patient’s medical history then set up the heart lung machine before I meet the patient in the operating room.

A perfusionist works on a heart lung machine in the operating room

We then have a team briefing led by the surgeon to discuss the case. With differing roles in the OR, a high-pressure environment, this helps everyone get on the same page. The procedure begins and I place the patient on the heart lung machine, which keeps the patient alive while the surgeon operates on the still, quiet heart. A debriefing by the surgeon is done at the end to confirm events or address any concerns that might have occurred during the procedure. We transfer the patient to the intensive care unit once we finish.

Tell us about your most gratifying experience
Two of the most gratifying experiences occurred this year when two of my colleagues required heart surgery. It is gratifying and humbling to know they entrusted their lives to the team they work with every day. It was a privilege to be involved in their care and see them return to good health.

What’s one thing people would be surprised to learn about your role?
I think people would be surprised to realize the level of responsibility and scope of practice of a perfusionist. Our role in the operating room can affect the outcome of the patient.

A perfusionist stands in portrait in full hospital attire