Year 12 students got to the heart of the matter when they took part in a mock operation guided by one of the region’s top cardiac surgeons.

Dr Bil Kirmani, consultant cardiac surgeon at Liverpool Heart & Chest Hospital, Broad Green visited the School on Monday 1st October to deliver a superb ‘hands-on’ talk and practical demonstration to students considering medicine as a career.

There was also much amusement as students donned operating theatre gowns and masks, grappling with the equipment for cardiac surgery, not least when someone inadvertently inserted the wrong end – the handle – of a rib clamp into the chest cavity of the practice mannequin by mistake.

Dr Kirmani gave a very honest appraisal of the hard work necessary to get where he is now. He said: “I’ve been a consultant since 2011 and it’s been a long 13 year journey. You need compassion, enthusiasm and the ability to cope with a lot of paperwork!” 

Students had filled in a questionnaire about their reasons for wanting to enter medicine, with answers ranging from altruism to wanting a big salary.

“Students go into medicine because they want to make a difference – which is good – but you must remember that in, say, surgery, it’s about teamwork with around 20 people in the theatre,” he said. “Because it’s a long, tough training you should examine why you want to do it. I can’t complain about my salary, but if you want money go into finance and you can earn three times as much without regularly working 12 hour days! Obscure things you learn at school in physics and you’d think you’d never use come into play, such as changes in pressure over time, are suddenly relevant in surgery. A lot is down to basic scientific principles.”

Asked about developing steady hands for surgery, Dr Kurmani, said hobbies like model making and embroidery were ideal. To relax, he and his wife run marathons, but added: “I really relax while I’m in the operating theatre, I know what I’m doing and I’m in total control.”

Dr Kirmani said this was the first school talk he had delivered, but had enjoyed the experience very much, praising the students’ enthusiasm. He said: “I liked their willingness to ask difficult questions, which mentally stimulates me to think hard about the answers.”

The visit was set up as part of World Heart Day, by Old Blue Matthew Back who is Head of Communications at Liverpool Heart & Chest Hospital.

We would like to thank Dr Kirmani and Old Blue Matthew Back for delivering such an insightful interactive lecture.

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