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Posts Tagged ‘jaundice’

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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Here is a business that is in the business of innovating to solve problems in poor countries.

The latest initiative at Design that Matters has been to find a low-cost way to treat babies in the developing world who have jaundice. This week the group tested Firefly, an easily transportable phototherapy bassinet specially designed for Vietnam. The doctors in Vietnam were ecstatic.

“Currently infants born with jaundice in Vietnam will first travel to a district hospital in their search for treatment, which are usually not equipped with the proper tools to treat any newborn health issues and are referred on to a provincial or national hospital. Due to this lack of equipment at the rural and district level, infants’ conditions worsen as they travel for multiple days, risking the development of permanent brain damage. …

“In response, Design that Matters (DtM), the East Meets West Foundation (EMW) and Vietnamese manufacturer MTTS have launched a collaboration to develop a new infant care device that will treat newborn jaundice during the critical first days of life.” Read more about Firefly here.

“Design that Matters (DtM), a 501c3 nonprofit based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, creates new products that allow social enterprises in developing countries to offer improved services and scale more quickly. DtM has built a collaborative design process through which hundreds of volunteers in academia and industry donate their skills and expertise to the creation of breakthrough products for communities in need. Our goal is to deliver a better quality of service, and a better quality of life, to millions of beneficiaries through products designed for our clients.”

John’s company, Optics for Hire played a role.

 

 

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