I was working in the lab of a heart surgeon who had developed his own artificial heart valve, and I had a concept that the heart valve might be damaging red blood cells, so I asked to do a research project using a scanning electron microscope at the time. When I was trying to basically learn the technique, I took some blood from the heart-lung bypass machine from patients undergoing heart-lung bypass, and when I incubated the red blood cells overnight, I noticed that a certain percentage of these cells change from their normal discoid shape to one that resembled a porcupine, called an econocyte. What I did was to describe the discocyte-econocyte transformation in patients undergoing heart-lung bypass, as an index of sublethal red blood cell damage. The importance being that the blood cells could not parachute through the small capillaries. Normally a capillary is about five microns, and the blood cell is seven, and it has to parachute through. The econocytes get stuck and can cause blockage in those capillaries.