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

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid