Texas Heart Institute expands to Austin with an innovative educational partnership to provide advanced clinical training for future members of cardiothoracic surgical teams

Texas Heart Institute, Dell Children’s Medical Center and UT Health Austin partner to launch innovative educational program for training the next wave of cardiovascular perfusionists

Houston, TX  – March 3, 2021 – Texas Heart Institute, Dell Children’s Medical Center, and UT Health Austin announce an educational partnership offering a first-of-its-kind clinical experience for student perfusionists in a pediatric setting. Perfusionists are vital members of the cardiothoracic team who operate the heart-lung machine during heart surgery. Texas Heart Institute was the first to have an accredited School of Perfusion Technology in the United States.

This educational collaboration will provide a clinical rotation for student perfusionists beginning in March, 2021.

“We are pleased to offer this exciting educational program in collaboration with the Texas Heart Institute. Our pediatric perfusionists at Dell Children’s and UT Health Austin are world leaders in mechanical circulatory support for children. We believe our program offers an unparalleled experience to learn from the best,” said Dr. Charles Fraser, chief of Pediatric and Congenital Surgery for UT Health Austin’s Texas Center for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease at Dell Children’s.

“Perfusion is a medical procedure that takes over the function of the lung and heart during open heart surgery. This is a critical procedure with a refined skill set for pediatrics,” said Dr. Carlos Mery, surgical director of the Heart Transplant Program at Dell Children’s and member of the UT Health Austin clinical team. “This advanced clinical training will offer a new generation of perfusionists an educational opportunity only available at Dell Children’s.”

Through the program, Texas Heart Institute students will have the unique opportunity to train in a pediatric setting for a four-week period. To date, 16 students have enrolled for the first year of this program. This is the first ever clinical affiliation between the Texas Heart Institute and a healthcare system in the school’s 50 year history.

“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.

“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.

Dell Children’s Heart Failure, VAD, and Transplant Program is the only program in Central Texas delivering complete multidisciplinary care for children with complex and progressive heart failure or that need a heart transplant. Dell Children’s first heart transplant was performed on October 3, 2020.

In 2018, the Texas Center for Pediatric and Congenital Heart Disease at Dell Children’s was established and is led by one of the world’s leading pediatric heart surgeons, Dr. Charles Fraser, Jr. This program includes the integration of clinical academics and research-driven initiatives through the exclusive partnership with Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin and UT Health Austin. As the only Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center in Central Texas, the capability of the Heart Transplant Program is enriched by Dell Children’s depth and breadth of expertise in numerous subspecialities.

About Ascension Texas
In Texas, Ascension operates Ascension Providence and Ascension Seton, which includes Dell Children’s Medical Center, the region’s only comprehensive children’s hospital and pediatric Level I trauma center, and Dell Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas, the region’s only Level I trauma center for adults. Ascension Seton partners with Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin and shares a common vision of transforming healthcare through a focus on quality and value. Serving Texas for 115 years, Ascension is a faith-based healthcare organization committed to delivering compassionate, personalized care to all, with special attention to persons living in poverty and those most vulnerable. Ascension is one of the leading non-profit and Catholic health systems in the U.S., operating 2,600 sites of care – including 150 hospitals and more than 50 senior living facilities – in 20 states and the District of Columbia. Visit www.ascension.org and www.dellchildrens.net.

About the Partnership between Dell Children’s Medical Center and UT Health Austin

UT Health Austin is the clinical practice of the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin. The partnership between UT Health Austin and Dell Children’s brings together a team of highly specialized providers who are at the forefront of the latest research and technological developments in the field of pediatric and congenital heart disease to build an integrated system of care that is a collaborative resource for clinicians and their patients.

About Texas Heart Institute (THI)
The Texas Heart Institute, founded by world-renowned cardiovascular surgeon Dr. Denton A. Cooley in 1962, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the devastating toll of cardiovascular disease through innovative and progressive programs in research, education, and improved patient care. THI’s scientists and physicians conduct fundamental biomedical, translational, and clinical research in cardiology, cardiovascular surgery, molecular-based medicine, stem cell and gene therapy, and regenerative medicine both independently and in collaboration with organizations worldwide. As global leaders of patient care for nearly six decades, Texas Heart Institute has been ranked among the top cardiovascular centers in the United States by U.S. News & World Report for the past 30 years. THI is dedicated to spreading awareness and sharing updates on ways to prevent, treat and defeat cardiovascular disease. With over 10 million visitors coming to its website from around the world every year, just one of the ways THI is helping to educate people on the importance of heart health.