In the Spotlight: Texas Heart Institute Perfusion Student to Take Part in Cutting-Edge New Partnership

In collaboration with the Texas Center for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease through UT Health Austin and Dell Children’s Medical Center, perfusion student Guian Mirabueno will be THI’s first participant in the innovative clinical educational program


In an exciting development announced on March 3, 2021, the Texas Center for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease, a clinical partnership between UT Health Austin and Dell Children’s Medical Center, announced an educational partnership with the Texas Heart Institute in which student perfusionists will now have the opportunity to perform clinical training at Dell Children’s Medical Center.


Beginning this month, this educational collaboration between Dell Children’s, UT Health Austin, and the Texas Heart Institute School of Perfusion Technology will provide a clinical rotation for student perfusionists.


As part of the program, Texas Heart Institute will send perfusion student Guian Mirabueno to participate in the program in Austin. Since 2010, Mirabueno has pursued a career in healthcare, first as a registered nurse in the Pediatric ICU at Texas Children’s Hospital; he eventually became a charge nurse and a member of the Texas Children’s rapid response team. Most importantly, Mirabueno’s early nursing training introduced him to the concept of Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO), a machine that pumps and oxygenates a patient’s blood outside the body, allowing the heart and lungs to rest. Mirabueno saw what an ECMO machine could do first-hand as a support mechanism for critically ill children.


Then, in 2015, he transitioned full-time to the ExtraCorporeal Life Support (ECLS) Core team, which allowed Mirabueno to take on additional responsibility. During this period, Mirabueno became more intimately familiar with Texas Children’s staff perfusionists and came to understand their critical role. “I was instantly drawn to the autonomy, responsibility, and skill each one possessed as they cared for the tiniest of human beings. These are children who have no say in the matter of whether or not they would be born with healthy hearts. This, above all else, is the principal reason why I want to pursue a career in pediatric perfusion. I possess a strong desire to be part of a team where one can help give a child the opportunity at a better quality of life so that their families can spend more time with them without worrying if they can breathe or why their child is so blue; there is nothing more rewarding,” Mirabueno emphasizes.


The Texas Heart Institute School of Perfusion Technology offers a post-baccalaureate certificate in perfusion technology. During this 18-month certification program, students who attend the School of Perfusion Technology receive academic and clinical training concurrently and are trained to operate the cardiopulmonary bypass machine, commonly known as the heart-lung machine, as well as other equipment associated with open-heart surgery.


“Since its inception in 1971, the Texas Heart Institute’s School of Perfusion Technology has been unwavering in its commitment to educating the heart care leaders of the future in the skilled use of cardiopulmonary bypass machines and other essential open-heart surgery equipment. Our partnership with Dr. Fraser and his team at Dell Children’s Medical Center underscores THI’s dedication to upholding Dr. Cooley’s indelible legacy, of which education is a primary facet, by offering students extensive and critical hands-on experience in the operating room,“ emphasized Howard Schramm, CAO/CFO at Texas Heart Institute and President of the Texas Heart Medical Group.


Student perfusionists at the Texas Heart Institute are required to operate the cardiopulmonary bypass machine during a minimum of 75 cases in order to fulfill graduation requirements and obtain eligibility to become a certified clinical perfusionist, which is granted after passing the American Board of Cardiovascular Perfusion’s national certification examination.  Historically, the Texas Heart Institute has been a powerhouse perfusion program; its graduates can be found in just about every major city across America.


“This opportunity is pivotal for the program as we quickly approach the upcoming perfusion training season. In collaboration with Blake Denison, CCP, Dell Children’s Director of Clinical Perfusion, we are proud to be a part of expanding the Texas Heart Institute mission of educating the next generation of perfusionists to the broader region while championing Dr. Cooley’s devotion to educational excellence that he consistently advocated dating back to THI’s founding nearly 60 years ago,” said Deborah Lowery Adams, CCP, Director and Clinical Coordinator of the School of Perfusion Technology at Texas Heart Institute.


Perfusionists are vital members of cardiothoracic surgical teams. To be able to operate this complex equipment, the perfusionist must not only have a thorough understanding of both the respiratory and circulatory system, but they must also be very attentive to the patient’s blood parameters in order to identify the most appropriate mechanical, pharmacological, and thermal manipulation needed to maintain the patient’s physiological state.


The Texas Center for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease, housed at Dell Children’s Medical Center, diagnoses, treats, and manages the care of children and adults with heart diseases and defects. Led by Charles Fraser, Jr., MD, who serves as the Chief of Pediatric and Congenital Surgery, the Texas Center for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease is the only pediatric program in Central Texas offering comprehensive heart care for newborns, infants, children, and adolescents.