THI Perfusion School’s Kyle Guster Honored with Inaugural Sal Guercio Memorial Scholarship

Texas Heart Institute’s School of Perfusion Technology has honored student Kyle Guster with the school’s inaugural Sal Guercio Memorial Scholarship. The award celebrates the memory of Sal Guercio, Perfusion School alumnus and respected clinical instructor, and recognizes an outstanding Junior or Senior student enrolled in the Perfusion Technology program. Ann Guercio, CCP, LP, MBA, presented the scholarship award to Mr. Guster on June 3 during the 2022 THI Perfusion Conference commemorating the 50th anniversary of the School’s founding.


Mrs. Guercio, who championed the creation of the scholarship to honor her late husband’s commitment to teaching, led the scholarship’s selection committee. “The selection committee and I were impressed with all the applicants. In talking to the perfusion staff and surgeons, Kyle emerged as the front runner who best embodied Sal’s attributes towards THI and Perfusion Education,” she said. Deborah Lowery Adams, LP, CCP, the School’s Director and Clinical Coordinator, worked closely with Mrs. Guercio to establish the scholarship to celebrate her late friend and colleague.


Mr. Guster is a member of the Perfusion School’s June 2022 graduating class. He decided to pursue a career in perfusion after his mother, a cardiovascular surgical first assistant for over 30 years, suggested he observe a surgical procedure with her during the senior semester of his undergraduate studies. “After just my first time being in the operating room, I found myself amazed with the role of the perfusionist and I knew this niche career would be a perfect fit for me,” he said. Before enrolling in the THI program, he worked as a perfusion assistant for two years; this experience furthered his appreciation of the teamwork necessary within an operating room to achieve the best possible patient care, which he cites as “the ultimate goal.” Reflecting on the challenges of the perfusionist’s role, he said, “The challenges that this career presents can be exhausting, but each day I leave the hospital feeling good, knowing that I did my best to change someone’s life for the better.”


As he embarks on the next phase of his career, Mr. Guster hopes to be both a life-long student and a life-long teacher. “My career would not be what it is today without the many perfusionists who allowed me to work side by side with them, all while teaching me along the way.” Several of those perfusionists have also provided Mr. Guster with an invaluable link to Sal Guercio. He explained, “Prior to my acceptance to Texas Heart Institute, I had worked with five perfusionists who had been students of Sal’s, dating back to 2012 and as recent as 2019.” These perfusionists shared stories about Sal Guercio’s impact on their education and how he had helped shape their careers. Mr. Guster continued, “Sal’s legacy is one to be talked about and shared with his inspiration and willingness to teach. I wish to be able to carry on that legacy that he has made, teaching and sharing the knowledge I have gained during my education and the knowledge I will gain in years to come.”


“We’re incredibly pleased to congratulate Kyle for his selection as the first recipient of the Sal Guercio Memorial Scholarship,” said Keri Sprung, MBA, THI Vice President for Communications and Education. “The establishment of this award is an exciting new chapter in the proud history of THI’s School of Perfusion Technology and we’re grateful to everyone who helped make this scholarship possible.”