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Blinn students get medical career preview at Texas Heart Institute

MEDS Club students observe surgery and regenerative medicine laboratories

April 4, 2016

Blinn College students preparing for careers in healthcare recently received a behinds-the-scenes look at a leading heart facility in Houston.

Twenty-two students from Blinn’s Medical Education Development Society (MEDS) Club toured Houston’s CHI St. Luke’s Medical Center and its Heart Institute, where they witnessed a surgery, viewed regenerative medicine laboratories and toured the blood donation center.

“Students get to see science that is right on the cutting edge of technology,” said Kris Wunderlich, Blinn biology instructor. “Trips like this can reinforce what students are learning in class because seeing it in action can be really valuable.”

Club members observed the regenerative medicine behind “ghost hearts,” pig hearts that have been cleansed of their original cells and then injected with blood and bone marrow stem cells so they can be transplanted into a recipient.

Researchers hope to someday make it possible for humans to receive such a heart or other organ containing their own cells from a donor.

“Usually when people go to the hospital they just see patient rooms, doctors and nurses,” said Caitlyn White, a second-year Blinn student from Austin. “At St. Luke’s, they let us see behind the scenes and the laboratory where all the heart research was happening.”

MEDS Club students are invited to attend the trip each semester 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.

“I appreciate St. Luke’s for allowing the group to come and learn so much,” White said. “Every time we come, we get to learn so many new things.”