heart-lung bypass machine

So I learned from the second YouTube video describing the surgery that the patient is kept alive during surgery through a heart-lung bypass machine. I googled the term, and I came up first with a bunch of images, which I started to browse. Then I stopped — right when things got too real and a bit too red. My queasy factor jumped way too high. So I’m about to go find some narrative, some kind of story about how this machine works. I’m leaving out pictures for now.

Wikipedia tells me the more medical term is “cardiopulmonary bypass” or “CPB.” I like that. CPB is also performed by “perfusionists,” a name that has me curious. Aha! “Perfusion” means blood flow, so a perfusionist is someone who helps the blood flow. I’m thinking — director of an orchestra — that’s the image I’ll use. A perfusionist directs the symphony of blood and breath outside the body —  extracorporeal circulation. Amazing. Really. It blows me away how easily our bodies can shatter, and how indestructible they are at the same time.

OK, it’s late, and my brain isn’t keeping up. I scanned the description of how CPB works, but I need to read it a couple times more to present it in any kind of coherent form here.


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