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Poland students watch open heart surgery

February 25, 2011
By J.T. Whitehouse
A class of students from Poland Seminary High School got a chance of a lifetime on Feb. 10 as they participated in a program at Allegheny General Hospital. The program allowed advanced biology students an opportunity to observe an actual surgery.

The program for the Poland students actually dates back to last year. Poland advanced placement biology teacher Beth Queen and her class visited the Carnegie Science Museum in Pittsburgh. While there, she met a woman named Pat Wolf, who worked with Allegheny General Hospital. Wolf told Queen about a new program for advanced biology students that allowed them to experience the world of medicine in a way that no one could have imagined. She said the students would actually be permitted to view a heart surgery from overhead of the operating table. The program sounded good and Queen made the arrangements for this year’s class to take part.

“We have an advanced biology class and many in it are looking at science and technical careers,” Queen said.

She said the program seemed to be a fit. It was established by the hospital's research arm, the Allegheny Singer Research Institute and the hospital’s Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery.

“The program, designed with professionals, invites students to watch an actual open heart surgery via the hospital’s glass observation dome in the operating room,” said AGH media relations specialist Stephanie Waite. “It is followed by a meeting with a member of the surgical team to talk about the surgery and careers in medicine.”

Queen said the one unknown was exactly what the students would be seeing on Feb. 10. They only knew they would be viewing a surgery. When they arrived at AGH, they found out that a heart had just been found for a patient awaiting a transplant. The Poland students would be observing that surgery.

For Queen, it was something that she was all to familiar with. She had undergone open heart surgery herself and she was able to use that experience to help answer the student’s questions.

Wolf said the program is helping get out several messages from future career choices to better living.

“Students learn why biology, chemistry and physics are such important subjects,” Wolf said. “This experience also makes an indelible impression on some students who are considering a career in medicine. Above all, students see the consequences of smoking and a diet high in fat. We hope these young people use this experience as an impetus to make healthy lifestyle choices.”

Queen said the staff at AGH were impressed with the good manners the Poland students exhibited during the program and invited Poland to return again next year.

Article Photos

Photos special to the Town Crier
Poland biology teacher Beth Queen, and students Lorrin Higgins, Geoff Nelson and Pat Gayeski watch an actual open heart transplant surgery during a visit to Allegheny General Hospital on Feb. 10.



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