Halifax has a long history of perfusion with the first Heart Lung Technologist coming to Halifax’s Victoria General Hospital from England in 1962. The first open heart procedure using a heart lung machine, Tetralogy of Fallot correction, was performed in 1963 at the Children’s Hospital. Alan Smith, Clarence Power and Jim MacDonald were the first perfusion team in Halifax, while the surgical team consisted of Drs. Ed Kinley, Gerry Dolan and D.A. Gillis.

Both adult and pediatric programs continued to grow with a new pediatric hospital, Issac Walton Killiam opening in 1970 and the adult program expanding to 3 operating rooms in the Victoria General Hospital by the 1980’s. The role of the perfusion staff also began to increase to include liver transplantation (veno-veno bypass, rapid infusion and autotransfusion), with the first transplant occurring in 1985 and over 500 done to-date. Heart transplantation followed in 1988 with approximately 250 to-date. During this time, the perfusion department also provided special services including isolated limb perfusion for invasive malignant sarcomas and hypothermic bypass, which was used by oncology and neurosurgeons.

The adult cardiac program moved to the New Halifax Infirmary in 1997. By this time, the perfusion department was doing approximately 900 adults and 100 children.

The VAD program inserted the first implantable device in 2004 (Thoratec®). Currently, we utilize Heartmate® and Heartware® devices.

Our ECMO and hyperthermic peritoneal perfusion (Sugarbaker) programs have expanded since the early 2000’s and in 2012 we assisted in the first TAVI procedure in Nova Scotia.
Our adult and pediatric programs have continued to evolve and we provide services to Cardiology, Emergency Medicine, Oncology, General, Neuro and Vascular Surgery, in addition to Cardiac Surgery. We typically perform 1000 adult and 100 pediatric cases, 10 heart transplants, 12 liver transplants, 25 ECMOs (V-A and V-V), 50 TAVIs, 15 long-term VADs, 70 IABPs and 20 Sugarbakers a year.

In addition to being a clinical teaching center, we are also active in perfusion research, with recent publications in Perfusion and JECT. Further, we have a number of staff that are involved in pediatric perfusion missions around the world.

There are many who have been a part of the Halifax Perfusion team since our inception: Alan Smith, Clarence Power, Jim MacDonald, Richard Leadon, Ralph Ricketts, Paul Pike, Mike Mass, Willie Swyer , Gerard Myers, Reid Johnstone, Christina Cormier(Squires), Patrick Weighell, Steve Ditmore, Jan Ditmore, Lance Mitchell, Rob Chalis, Dave Darlington, Ken Gardiner, Bill Cook, Abdul Merchant, Steve Taylor, Janna Ellsmere, Andrea Corrigan, Maureen Young, Shelley Welker, Marie Frances Raymond, Steve Morrison, Justin Hawkins, Darryl Joseph, Max Meier, Roger Stanzel, Mark Henderson, Dale Wist, Nish Bharat, Quinn Gill, Hari Prasad, Charlotte Baker and Bill Hill (current manager).