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### Training Program Initiated by Alumnus to Educate Students in Specialized Medical Field

Alumnus Altaf Panjwani utilized the solid educational background he acquired at Mercer University to embark on a successful career as a perfusionist, a vital role in the operating room during heart surgeries.

Operating the heart-lung machine during procedures necessitating artificial support or temporary replacement of heart and lung functions is the primary responsibility of perfusionists. Describing the machine’s function, Panjwani explained that it extracts blood from the body, oxygenates it, eliminates carbon dioxide, filters it, and returns it to the patient.

His interest in this field was sparked during his time shadowing a heart surgeon while pursuing a pre-medical degree at Mercer. Witnessing the process, he found it fascinating, noting, “You stop hearts for a living.” Graduating from Mercer with a degree in computer network systems in 2003, he recognized the opportunity to play a significant role in patient care without pursuing a medical degree.

Furthering his education, Panjwani obtained a master’s degree in perfusion technology from Northeastern University in Boston. He spent approximately a decade at Emory Healthcare in Atlanta, progressing from a student perfusionist to a chief perfusionist at Emory University Hospital Midtown. In 2017, he ventured out to establish his own perfusion program.

Currently serving as the program director of cardiovascular perfusion at Baylor Scott & White The Heart Hospital in Plano, Texas, Panjwani is dedicated to training postgraduate students for careers in this specialized field. The one-year program has already produced two cohorts totaling 11 graduates, boasting a 100% job placement rate. With approximately 4,400 perfusionists nationwide, Panjwani remains committed to nurturing the next generation of professionals in the field.

During the selection process for his third class, Panjwani was pleasantly surprised to encounter a Mercer graduate, Hannah Deeley, applying to the program. Despite no prior connection, he found it intriguing that she shared an interest in perfusion and noted her success in the program.

Deeley, a 2021 Mercer graduate, completed her undergraduate studies at the university. Both Deeley and Panjwani acknowledged Mercer’s rigorous academic environment for equipping them with the necessary skills for postgraduate education. Deeley highlighted the university’s emphasis on time management and efficient study habits, which have proven invaluable in her graduate studies.

Transitioning from a practitioner to an educator, Panjwani expressed his satisfaction in shaping young minds and imparting not only major concepts but also the intricate details essential for success in the field.