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Mother creates medical device to help sons who suffer from sickle cell disease

Shared by JoanaSaraiva on 2019-08-19 15:37

About the solution

Abi Huskins thought that her sons Ivan and Ian were very malnourished, but she soon realised that her sons kept low levels of haemoglobin; a protein found in blood cells that carries oxygen. She then tested them for sickle cell disease (SCD), which came positive. SCD can cause blockages of blood flow in different parts of the body, and so, many children with SCD end up having to receive frequent blood transfusions.

A first stem cell transplant greatly helped Ian, but Ivan kept needing daylong transfusions every four weeks called aphaeresis, which removes his blood supply and strips the sickle cells, replacing them with healthy red blood cells from a donor.

One day Abi realized that the dressing used to secure her son’s transfusion port needle was not good enough. Unlike needles inserted on an angle, which have a transparent dressing, straight port needles prevent similar dressings and makes healthcare workers have to improvise. The dressing used on her was made of layers of gauze and tape to hold the needle in place, which doesn’t allow easy visualization of possible redness or infection on her son’s skin. Also, It was absorbent, instead of waterproof, and the soft material left it vulnerable to being knocked out of place or otherwise damaged if the young boy squirmed.

That is when Abi decided to create a better dressing for the transfusion port herself. She created the Guard-A-Port device. It is a transparent port designed for patients who need chronic blood transfusions, like her sons. It is a a two-piece plastic tent that clips together to shield a patient's port. It can be held in place with a water- and air-tight plastic dressing, like Tegaderm, that sticks to the skin. “I felt a responsibility to use my nursing background to do something for patients who may not know what the standard of care should be.”, Abi explained.

Initially she made a prototype made out of half a wine cork and a spare needle – things she found in her house. She cut an old wine cork in half. The amount of pressure required to insert a spare needle into the cork was similar enough to mimic a real clinical situation. Then she set out to mould two halves of a tent, flattening the Play-Doh into two rounds and folding them over to sit almost like a cup over the top of the wine-cork port, connecting on the sides but leaving room at the top for the needles and requisite tubing to exit.

After talking to the Director of Clinical Care Innovation Accelerator at the Indiana Clinical & Translational Sciences Institute, Jonathan Merrell, she got in touch and worked together with a team of engineering students, she created a usable product from her initial prototype.

Abi now wants the solution to help other patients. She got a provisional patent and the team is now in the process of finding a company interested in selling it commercially.

Adapted from: http://bit.ly/2HgGYSm
https://bit.ly/2Pf6Ggq

This solution shall not include mention to the use of drugs, chemicals or biologicals (including food); invasive devices; offensive, commercial or inherently dangerous content. This solution was not medically validated. Proceed with caution! If you have any doubts, please consult with a health professional.

About the author

Abi Huskins, who is a nurse from Indiana, USA, participated in a medical training partnership in Kenya, and came back home with two adopted twin boy sons, Ivan and Ian, who were just 6 months old and suffered from sickle cell disease.

She created, in 2019, Guard-A-Port, a new dressing for the blood transfusion needle port, to help her sons.

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