Students simulate surgery with cutting edge robotic system

OCALA | Students from the Trinity Catholic High School robotics program had the unique opportunity to learn how to use the innovative da Vinci Surgical System robot at Florida Hospital Ocala, Oct. 25. The cutting edge machine is named after the famous artist, Leonardo da Vinci, whose study of the human body is credited in part with its development.

“It’s important for our students to see what they learn in the classroom directly relates to real life,” said Daren Johnson, robotics instructor of Trinity Catholic High School. “I think the most important thing the students got out of this experience was that it is not just about building a robot to compete. Robots are important in everyday life. I also think it really opened the eyes of several of the kids as to where they want to go in the future.”

The Trinity Catholic robotics program focuses on multiple facets of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) including coding, electronics and engineering. The team of more than 20 students is preparing for the 30th Season of the FIRST! (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition presented by Boeing. The team will receive their mission in January and then have six weeks to design, build and program their robot to accomplish the mission.

Students simulated surgery on two da Vinci Xi® robots with the help of surgeons Dr. Juan Gutierrez and Dr. Dwight Landmann. Florida Hospital Ocala is the only hospital in Marion County with three da Vinci robotics surgical systems. Surgeons use the machines to view the surgical site using magnified 3D HD technology and make precise adjustments to their instruments during colon, cardiology, bariatric and gynecological procedures, just to name a few. Robotic surgeries mean less blood loss, less pain, less risk of infection, minimal scarring, and reduced recovery time for patients.

The advantages of this method were not lost on the students. Rachel, an 11th-grader on the trip said, “It was an unforgettable experience. Being able to test out a machine that helps save people’s lives is so unreal, almost like I was helping better the world.” Maria, a fellow classmate, agreed. “It was an honor to be there. I got to experience something that is once in a lifetime. I got more knowledge about surgery and robotics.”

Lou Pereira, President of Trinity Catholic High School, is proud his students were blessed with this experience. “The opportunity provided to our students on this day illustrates how useful technology is in our lives,” he said. “Technology and the talent of skillful surgeons save and improve lives. We are reminded of the ever present power of God who gives us every gift, every skill and all of the knowledge needed to make this happen.”

Sara Ingram, director of perioperative services noted, “Florida Hospital Ocala hopes this partnership with Trinity Catholic High School is just the beginning of a long-standing relationship to educate and empower future healthcare and STEM professionals within our community.”

By Glenda Meekins of the Florida Catholic – November 7, 2018