News / USA

Hospital Machinist Aids Medical Research

Hospital Machinist Aids Medical Researchi
X
February 21, 2014 1:41 AM
Many people who would have died from common ailments a few decades back are alive today thanks to advances in medical technology, including devices created by researchers in laboratories. But getting from a design sketch to an actual approved product can take years. VOA correspondent Greg Flakus reports from the Texas Medical Center in Houston.
Greg Flakus
Many people who would have died from common ailments a few decades back are alive today thanks to advances in medical technology, including devices created by researchers in laboratories.  But getting from a design sketch to an actual approved product can take years. 

His coworkers are lathes and drills rather than doctors, nurses and medical technicians, but Juan Fernandez is a highly regarded collaborator at Houston Methodist Hospital.

He made this valve for operating room technicians who wanted a better way to monitor oxygen flow.

"The oxygen goes in and out this way and the sensor will tell how much oxygen is going to the patient," said Fernandez.

These kind of innovations are sometimes so successful, the companies manufacturing the equipment sometimes incorporate them into new designs.

Biomedical engineer Matthew Jackson worked with Fernandez to develop parts for this cardiovascular simulator.

"The payoff of having the machine shop here is that you can create unique solutions to problems in a simple way, where you are just removing and adding material to create something," said Jackson.

Juan Fernandez, who has worked worked more than 25 years here in Houston's Texas Medical Center, says that experience pays off when someone shows him a sketch for a part they want made.

"On paper you can make anything, but once you try to make it into a part, it is hard," he said.

Fernandez produced many of the parts for this cardiovascular simulator.

It uses a plastic reproduction of a patient's aorta to test blood flow.

Matthew Jackson says he needed a device made of plastic, rather than metal, because it has to be inserted into the highly magnetic ring of an MRI machine.

"This is something Juan created for us and it helped with a lot of the initial work we were doing on this project.  You sandwich that valve between the two, the left side acts as the ventricle and this side acts as the atrium and you can put this in the MRI magnet because it is all made out of plastic," he said.

Some of the earliest advances in treating heart disease were made here in Houston by Dr. Michael DeBakey, who, in 1991, called on Juan Fernandez to make the prototype for a ventricular assist device.

For Fernandez this was personal.  He was just 10-years-old when his father died in front of him.

"He started snoring and I thought he was playing with me and I called my mom and they called the paramedics, but he was gone.  The doctor said it was a heart attack," said Fernandez.

The researchers who design new devices gain prestige and money from patents, and the doctors who use them gain status in the medical community.

Juan Fernandez shuns attention and prefers to work alone.

"I know deep down that I helped mankind and that is all that matters to me," he said.

Juan Fernandez is now 65 and could retire.  But he continues to work and and do his part for medical science.

You May Like

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid