Philadelphia native has held hearts assisting surgeries

Philadelphia native has held hearts assisting surgeries


Assisting with coronary artery bypass grafting and heart transplants is fulfilling work for Philadelphia’s Alexandra Weir Leming now in Virginia.

The Neshoba County native has learned that you never know when your kindness will be the last thing someone experiences.

Leming always knew she wanted to go into the medical field, and after years of training and hundreds of hours in the operating room, she is right where she wants to be. 

She has held hearts in her hand and learned very important life lessons about taking care of your body and being a team player during crucial, life-saving surgeries.

“My job, which is assisting in coronary artery bypass grafting, has been great,” Leming said. “I’m able to stay calm during emergencies, and I think that really helps. This is a very high-stress job.”

Leming, daughter of William and Stacie Weir, grew up in Philadelphia, attended Neshoba Central High School and graduated from Leake Academy. She began her journey in the medical field at Mississippi State Meridian’s kinesiology program, where she worked as a personal trainer while completing her schoolwork.

She graduated with a bachelor of science in clinical exercise physiology with a concentration in kinesiology in 2016.  

“After college graduation, I started working for the Department of Defense- Morale, Welfare, and Recreation department as an Aquatics/Fitness Specialist at Naval Air Station Meridian,” Leming said.

“I met my husband, Blake, during his second week stationed at NAS Meridian where he was in flight school. We got married in Meridian and moved to Virginia Beach about a year later so he could train to fly F-18 Echos.”

After moving to Virginia, Leming wanted to return to school even though she found another fitness specialist job. There she discovered the master of surgical assisting degree at Eastern Virginia Medical School and decided to apply in 2020.

“I was accepted that same year and found that the program lasted two years; one didactic, and one clinical,” Leming said. “Throughout the clinical year, I participated in roughly 400 surgeries and had almost 1,000 hours in the operating room. I was able to first assist in general surgery as well as several specialties including neuro, ophthalmology, pediatrics, OBGYN, urology, ENT, and vascular.”  

While in the program, Leming concentrated on plastic, orthopedic, and cardiothoracic surgeries, and is now certified to assist in Da Vinci robotic surgeries. 

She took two board exams and passed both, which allowed her to become a Certified Surgical Assistant through the National Commission for the Certification of Surgical Assistants, as well as a Certified Surgical First Assistant through the National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting.

In May of this year, Leming celebrated her White Coat Ceremony.

Leming obtained her licensure through the Commonwealth of Virginia and now works at Sentara Heart Hospital in Norfolk, Va., where she assists in coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) procedures regularly as well as heart transplants, thoracic cases, and emergent cases.

“Surgical Assisting isn’t as common in Mississippi as it is in Virginia, so most people don’t really know what I do,” Leming said. “I stand across from the surgeon and complete the procedure with them. I have been able to hold people’s hearts in my hand.”

Leming said several life lessons have stood out to her while working the last few months, such as how drugs are terrible for your heart, how important it is to take care of your body by eating well and exercising often, and how you can do everything “right” and still have a genetic predisposition for heart complications.

“Enjoy life, and have faith,” she said. “The last thing anyone wants to hear during a late-night shift is negativity. We all learn to be encouraging and team players.”

Powered by Creative Circle Media Solutions