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Can You Identify The Owner of This Heart?

By: James P. Young, Jr. PhD

Chief Executive Officer

I was born with a heart defect that required a high-risk, open-heart procedure when I was 12 years old. That experience caused me to become very interested in the human heart.

During my 40 years in the cardiac medical device profession, I spent considerable time in surgery, observing and supporting procedures, including open heart cases. In addition to my amazement at the skills the team demonstrated during the procedures, I was equally amazed at how the heart withstood the procedures (including mine).

What also struck me was the fact that once the patient was surgically draped, and only their heart was exposed, you could not tell if they were Black, White, Male, Female, Republican, Democrat, Gay, Straight (you get my point).

Moreover, once they went on the bypass (extracorporeal) machine, it was always amazing that the blood was always the same color regardless of the patient. There was no Black colored blood, White-colored blood, Male colored blood, Female colored blood, Gay colored blood, Straight colored blood (you get my point).

While the patient usually knew the cardiothoracic surgeon who performed the operation and perhaps the anesthesiologist, they seldom (if ever) saw or knew the scrub nurse, circulating nurse, or pump team (if used). Nor did they know if the team supporting the procedure were Black, White, Male, Female, Republican, Democrat, Gay, Straight (you get my point).

It would be great if we all learned from this important life lesson and saw ourselves simply as human beings with limited time on this earth and the importance of relying on one another for our existence, regardless of our extrinsic conscious or unconscious biases. This is why you will hear and learn more (especially from my team) about human-centered leadership, human-centered care, and human-centered organizational cultures (I hope you got my points).

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