Blog : Team

Two Parts Engineer, One Part Macgyver—The Biomedical Engineer

Two Parts Engineer, One Part Macgyver—The Biomedical Engineer

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The bright operating room lights were trained on the precise place where the repair needed to be made. It was a delicate operation—getting to the heart of the problem.

But the “patient” in this case wasn’t a Libyan child—it was the anesthesia machine, and things weren’t looking good. And without an anaesthesia machine—no surgery.

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When we think about heart surgeries, we imagine surgeons cutting and stitching, and doctors and nurses managing patient recovery. We see beeping monitors, and patients attached to tubes, and wires—and we assume it all just works.

Until it doesn’t.

There is one member of our team you rarely hear about: the biomedical engineer.

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Meet David (left side of above photo). David makes everything work.

For programmes in developing countries like Libya, David goes in far ahead of the rest of the team. He helps to design operating room and ICU lay-outs, consults on needed equipment, and problem solves practical issues that are are obvious to him the moment he walks into a room—for example, knowing how many machines should be at each bedside, you can immediately see when there aren’t enough electrical outlets at each bed.

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Our most recent surgical mission in Libya provided countless instances which illustrated the biomedical engineer’s integral role with the medical team. When the mechanism that raises and lowers the operating table broke mid-surgery, David began to diagnose the problem as soon as the patient was wheeled out of the room. He was able to make the needed repairs quickly, so the afternoon surgery could go ahead as scheduled, and a critically ill child didn’t need to wait any longer to get their lifesaving surgery.

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He sorted out oxygen supply issues at patient’s bedside, repaired sorely needed monitors languishing in hospital storage and put them back into service, and he tackled the problem with the broken anaesthesia machine—which ultimately involved bringing in a machine from another hospital and getting it functional.

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With his specialized bags of tools, years of experience around the globe, and curious nature, David keeps operating rooms and ICUs functioning, which allows the surgical and critical care teams to do their jobs well.

David’s work not only makes our surgical trips possible, but he leaves hosting hospitals in better shape than when we arrived.


Dr. William Novick MD MS

Dr. William Novick MD MS

Medical Director: CEO Senior Pediatric and Congenital Cardiac Surgeon

Dr Novick is a graduate of University of Alabama School of Medicine and completed his General Surgical Residency at the Graduate Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania before entering the Cardiothoracic Residency at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. He completed the cardiothoracic program and remained for 2 years as Congenital Cardiac Fellow.

After 2 years as the sole pediatric cardiac surgeon at Arnold Palmer Hospital for Women and Children he joined the faculty at the University of Tennessee as a pediatric cardiac surgeon where he was made the Paul Nemir Professor of Surgery and International Child Health in 1999.

In 1993 Dr Novick Founded and then lead the International Children’s Heart Foundation until October 2014 when he resigned to create the Novick Cardiac Alliance. Dr Novick is a member of the STS, EACTS, STSA, WSPCHS and serves on the Executive Committee of the IQIC.

He has authored multiple papers on congenital heart disease, contributed to several books on pediatric heart disease, intensive care and thoracic trauma, as well as co-authored “Healing the Heart of Croatia”.

Dr Novick lives in Memphis with his wife Elizabeth and two sons, Nicholas and Jackson, his older children are enrolled in University of Alabama (Celena), University of Alabama-Birmingham (Bryant) and his oldest is an artist living in Birmingham (Alessandra).

Elizabeth Novick; BSN, RN

Elizabeth Novick; BSN, RN

Social Media, Treasurer, Board of Directors

Elizabeth Novick is married to Founder, William Novick. She worked as a pediatric cardiac intensive care unit nurse for 15 years in the United States and in the developing world.

Dr. Novick and Elizabeth have 2 children together. Elizabeth is a full time Mother and manages the social media exposure for The William Novick Global Cardiac Alliance.

Sri O. Rao MD

Pediatric Cardiologist, Interventional Cardiology Development Coordinator, Secretary Board Of Directors

Sri became involved with international medical work during his pediatric residency in New York City. This continued throughout his pediatric cardiology fellowship where he first worked with Dr. Novick at the International Childrens Heart Foundation in 2004.This collaboration is now under the auspices of the Novick Cardiac Alliance.
Sri volunteers with the Novick Cardiac Alliance to develop cardiology and cardiac catheterization services. He presently works at the Alaska Children’s Heart Center in Anchorage, Alaska and has an on-going professional affiliation with the University of California in San Francisco, USA.
Sri’s interests are in the development of sustainable congenital cardiology care systems especially as they relate to cost-effective strategies for cardiac catheterization laboratories in developing countries.

Stacey Marr; MSc, RN, NP

Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

Stacey initially qualified as a nurse in 1994 and has since completed a higher diploma in Children’s Nursing, a BSc in Paediatric intensive care (PICU) and finally an MSc in Strategic Leadership and Clinical Expertise.

Stacey is a Paediatric Nurse Practitioner specialising in PICU and Transport. In the 14 years that Stacey has worked in PICU she has worked in Great Ormond Sreet Children’s Hospital, the Evelina London Children’s Hospital and has dedicated much of her time to working on projects in the developing world.

Stacey first worked with Dr Novick at the International Children’s Heart Foundation in 2005 in Pakistan and has since worked in more than 12 countries with Dr Novick and colleagues.

She has worked with the Novick Cardiac Alliance since its inception and is currently pursuing a Masters of Public Health.

Brian C Forsberg MPH CCP FPP

Chief Perfusionist

Brian is a graduate of Drexel University with a Bachelor of Science in Perfusion Technology (2005) and The University of Oklahoma with a Master of Public Health (2010).

Brian is board certified in Cardiovascular Perfusion by the American Board of Cardiovascular Perfusion (2006) and has received Fellowship in Pediatric Perfusion from American Society of Extracorporeal Technology (2014).

Mr. Forsberg has been a practicing pediatric perfusionist in Missouri, Oklahoma and Florida since 2006.  He was most recently the Assistant Program Director for Barry University Cardiovascular Perfusion Program, Miami, FL before assuming a full-time clinical position with Comprehensive Care Services.

Professional memberships include; Florida Perfusion Society (Board Member), American Academy of Cardiovascular Perfusion, American Society of Extracorporeal Technology (Perfusion Without Borders Committee Member), and American Public Health Association.

He first volunteered with Dr Novick at the International Children’s Heart Foundation in 2010 and since then has volunteered on many surgical missions as well as leading the perfusion service for the organization. He has been with the Novick Cardiac Alliance since its inception.

Research interests include, international perfusion education, modified ultrafiltration, pediatric perfusion, and public health.

Marcelo Cardarelli MD MPH

Marcelo Cardarelli MD MPH

Pediatric and Congenital Cardiac Surgeon, Research Coordinator

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and graduated from University of Buenos Aires.

After his initial training in cardiac surgery in Argentina, Dr. Cardarelli completed a series of residencies and fellowships at some of the most prestigious cardiac care facilities in America, including Texas Heart Institute, Children Hospital of Philadelphia and Boston Children Hospital.

Dr. Cardarelli was Director of Pediatric Cardiac Surgery at University of Maryland Hospital for Children for nearly 18 years. In 2006, Dr. Cardarelli obtained his Masters degree in Public Health from the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University.

Since 2012 Dr. Cardarelli has worked as volunteer and staff surgeon in multiple surgical missions with Dr. Novick  at the International Children’s Heart Foundation recently  joined the newly established Novick Cardiac Alliance.

Siarhei Liauchonak MD

Pediatric Cardiac Anesthesiologist

Siarhei is  dual certified as a Pediatric Anesthesiologist and  Pediatric Intensivist.

He graduated from the Belarusian Medical School in 2004 He has worked as a Pediatric Anesthesiologist at the Children’s Surgery Center, Minsk and the Belarussian Children’s Cardiac Centre.

Siarhei began volunteering as an Anesthesiologist with Dr Novick at the International Children’s Heart Foundation in 2005 and in 2010 Siarhei began working full time with Dr Novick’s team. He has worked for the Novick Cardiac Alliance since its inception.


Pavel Shauchenka MD

Pediatric Cardiac Intensivist

Pavel is dual certified as a Pediatric Intensivist and Pediatric Anesthesiologist.

He graduated from the Belarusian Medical School in 2003 and then went onto complete fellowships at the Christian-Albrechts-University, Kiel and the German Heart Institute, Berlin.

He has worked as Intensive Care physician at the Children Surgery Center, Minsk (2004-2007) and was supervisor in the Pediatric Cardiac Intensive care unit, Minsk Pediatric Cardiac Surgery Center 2007- 2010.

Pavel first began volunteering his time as Intensivist with Dr Novick at the International Children’s Heart Foundation in 2008 and in 2010 he took up a full time position as Intensivist with Dr Novick’s team. He has worked for the Novick Cardiac Alliance since it’s inception.

Martina Pavanic; BSN, RN

Director OR Nursing, Quality Assurance

Martina received a Nursing Diploma at the Mlinarska Nursing School, Zagreb, Croatia in 1996 and completed a  Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing at University of Memphis, Loewenberg School of Nursing in 2015.

On graduation Martina worked as a scrub nurse and circulatory nurse in the operating room and then specialized in cardiovascular surgery from 1998-2000 at the KBC Zagreb, Rebro University Hospital. Martina met Dr Novick in 1998 when he was teaching in the hospital where she worked and in 2000 Martina started working full time with Dr Novick and his charity.

Martina worked as the Lead Operating Room nurse and Surgical Trip Coordinator with Dr Novick and relocated to Memphis where she currently lives.

Martina has worked with the Novick Cardiac Alliance since it’s inception.