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Posts Tagged ‘bili-hut’

In the Boston Globe‘s new “Stat” offering, Melissa Bailey has a story about a Boston doctor’s cost-effective bed for treating jaundiced African babies with blue-light.

“The invention looks like a space-age bassinet: A basket of reflective material, covered with canvas dotted with blue LED lights. It aims to treat an ancient problem. Jaundice — an excess of bilirubin that turns the skin yellow — kills 100,000 babies per year, many in developing countries. But exposure to plain blue light can cure it.

“The device, called the Bili-Hut, was inspired by inventor Donna Brezinski’s experience as a neonatal doctor at Boston Children’s Hospital. One day, about ten years ago, she was caring for a pair of jaundiced newborn twins at a community hospital that partnered with Children’s — but found only one available phototherapy lamp, the standard treatment for severe cases. When she looked into buying another lamp, she was shocked by the $4,000 price tag.

“Sewing together simple materials at her kitchen table in Winchester, she set about creating a cheaper and more portable alternative that could be used in the developing world. She came up with a bassinet that reflects blue light around the baby’s body. She started a company, Little Sparrows Technologies, to produce and distribute the device. It weighs less than three pounds, can be rolled up to fit inside a FedEx tube, and costs only $250 to make.

“While the device awaits clearance from the Federal Drug Administration for use in the United States, a rural hospital in Burundi has been testing out a prototype and has reported promising results.

“Dr. Alyssa Pfister, a pediatrician at Kibuye Hope Hospital in east central Burundi, found the Bili-Hut on the Internet and e-mailed Brezinski. The inventor sent a free prototype to the hospital, which started using it in September. …

“Brezinski said the device provides the same intensity and quality of light recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and used by other blankets and lamps approved by the FDA. She has tested it on synthetic skin samples and expects to hear back from the FDA within 18 months.” More here.

Interestingly, John’s company, Optics for Hire, was involved in a successful device for treating babies in the developing world called Firefly. See it here.

Photo: Alissa Ambrose/Stat

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