Departments A - Z

Perfusion Department

Mr. Paul Keartland – Perfusionist in charge

Description of service

The perfusion department is a sub-section of the department of cardio-thoracic surgery. The perfusionists operate the heart/lung machine during open heart surgery when a patient's heart and lungs are stopped to facilitate surgery. Service is also provided to the Heart Surgery Programme at Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin and to the Liver Transplant Programme, St. Vincent's University Hospital, Elm Park. The department has a staff of nine and also runs a training programme for perfusionists.

Access to service
Patients come in contact with this department while undergoing cardio-thoracic surgery at the Mater Misericordiae Hospital and Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin and Liver Transplantation at St. Vincent's University Hospital, Elm Park.

Contact name and telephone number: 
Mr Paul Keartland +353 (0)1 803 2427

A brief history of the perfusionist profession
The history of extra corporeal circulatory support extends back to the 19th century when medical advances in the understanding of the human physiology and advanced studies of isolated organs resulted in the creating of devices to facilitate new scientific research.

As development of these devices gained momentum in the early part of the 20th century researchers began to consider the possibilities of heart operations. Laboratory research and development continued primarily in the United States and in Europe despite being interrupted by the war. The first successful heart operation was performed on May 6th 1953 with the aid of a heart/lung machine. Worldwide interest and excitement at the possibilities grew at this stage. The first Irish heart operations performed with the aid of a heart/lung machine took place in various hospitals around the country in the early 1960's. The first such operations to be performed at the Mater Misericordiae Hospital took place in March 1961. In the early years of open heart surgery, no one person or group of people took responsibility for the operation of the heart/lung machine. A surgeon, anaesthetist, nurse or technician undertook the task - the practice varied from hospital to hospital. As the number and complexity of heart operations performed throughout the world increased in the 1970's, a group of keen and highly motivated men and women dedicated to the operation of the heart/lung machine and the development of safe and effective extra-corporeal circulatory support techniques emerged. They were the first perfusionists. The commitment of perfusionists in this initial period played a significant part in reducing morbidity and mortality directly associated with extra-corporeal circulatory support. Around the world perfusionists quickly formed organisations that enabled them to share their professional experiences with one another through periodicals and meetings. As the organisations developed (particularly during the 1990's) attention was focused on formalising the training and certification or accreditation processes for perfusionists. Within the European Union, the European Board of Cardiovascular Perfusion has developed close links with the European Society of Cardiovascular Surgery, the European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery and the European Association of Cardio-Thoracic Anaesthesiologists. The Society of Clinical Perfusion Scientists of Great Britain and Ireland has developed close links with the Society of Cardio-Thoracic Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland.

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