Innovative program for training the next wave of cardiovascular perfusionists


Dell Children’s Medical Center, is proud to announce an educational partnership offering a first-of-its-kind clinical experience for student perfusionists in a pediatric setting, in partnership with UT Health Austin and the Texas Heart Institute. Perfusionists are vital members of the cardiothoracic team who operate the heart-lung machine during heart surgery.

This educational collaboration between Dell Children’s, UT Health Austin and The Texas Heart Institute School of Perfusion Technology will provide a clinical rotation for student perfusionists beginning in March, 2021. UT Health Austin is the clinical practice of Dell Medical School at The University of Texas in Austin.

“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.