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Blinn students glimpse future careers at Texas Heart Institute

MEDS Club observes surgery and “ghost” organs prepared for stem cell transplant

MEDS Club

November 5, 2015

Blinn College students training for careers in healthcare recently got an inside look at a leading heart facility that treats half a million patients each year.

Twenty-seven students from Blinn’s Medical Education Development Society (MEDS) Club toured Houston’s CHI St. Luke’s Medical Center and its Texas Heart Institute, where they witnessed portions of two live heart surgeries and got an up-close look at the future of organ transplantation that could save the lives of 8,000 Americans annually.

Club members observed a white “ghost heart” stripped of its original cells to prepare it for an injection of stem cells.

Someday, a patient in need of transplant may be able to provide cells to a donated human or animal heart, so that a new heart grows and matures—one that won’t be rejected by the patient’s body.

Researchers at the Texas Heart Institute, a nonprofit located at St. Luke’s Medical Center, have grown rat and pig hearts, and are working on human hearts and other organs.

“Seeing the ghost organs was absolutely amazing,” said Caitlyn White, a first-year student from Austin and reporter for the MEDS Club. “Getting to see that breakthrough in technology was just phenomenal.”

MEDS Club students are invited to attend the trip each year at no cost to the student. The club connects students interested in a wide range of health professions with networking opportunities and offers a glimpse into various professions with regular lectures from guest speakers.

“This trip is always a great experience for students,” said Dr. Ken French, chemistry professor and club advisor. “Some students decide that medicine is not for them after watching a heart surgery, and others get inspired. It’s an opportunity that can help define their futures.”

For more information on the MEDS Club, contact French at kfrench@blinn.edu.