Texas Heart Institute Salutes Graduates During National Perfusionist Appreciation Week

To honor perfusionists worldwide, the week of April 29 – May 3 has been declared National Perfusionist Appreciation Week by the American Society of Extracorporeal Technology (AmSECT).

Since 1953, millions of adult and children patients have received the gift of life because of the heart-lung (ie, cardiopulmonary bypass) machines that are operated by perfusionists around the world.

The perfusionist is an integral member of the cardiac surgical team and must be knowledgeable about the various pieces of complex equipment available for supporting a patient’s circulation, including the heart-lung machine. As directed by the surgeons and anesthesiologists, the perfusionist helps to monitor a patient’s blood gases and other important physiologic values during procedures.

The first successful open heart procedure, accomplished with the use of a heart-lung machine, was performed in 1953. Throughout the 1960s, the use of open-heart procedures rapidly expanded and became increasingly sophisticated. At that time, Denton A. Cooley, MD—Founder, Surgeon-in-Chief, and President of the Texas Heart Institute, was conducting more open-heart procedures than any other surgeon in the world, and he recognized the need for a larger number of formally trained perfusionists. To meet that need, he established the THI School of Perfusion Technology in 1971. To date, the school has trained nearly 1,000 students.

Please join the Texas Heart Institute in saluting perfusionists everywhere.

Visit our New THI School of Perfusion Technology Alumni Page


“With the advent of the heart-lung machine, for example, we surgeons had the key to a door that had previously been locked. Once we had the key, then we could venture out into unexplored territory.”  Denton A. Cooley, MD