News / Health

    Tattoos Illustrate Art of Saving Lives

    Faiza Elmasry
    It takes less than an hour for Robin Rhoderick to get what she has long wanted - a tattoo.

    “Oh, look," she says, admiring the colorful emblem emblazoned on her forearm. "It's beautiful.”

    While many view tattoos as a creative way to express themselves, for Rhoderick it is a potential lifesaver. Her tattoo is a new permanent medical ID. It alerts medical personnel to her health condition, which is called congenital adrenal hyperplasia.

    "They won't mistake that at the hospital," she says. “It really means your adrenalin glands don’t function. I take steroids daily and if I have an adrenal crisis, then it becomes very life threatening.”

    That's why she's always worn a medical alert bracelet. But not anymore. Now she's replaced that piece of jewelry with a tattoo.

    Before the session, she told tattoo artist Jeffery Grimet she wanted to add wings to the standard medical alert icon, which includes a red star and a snake wrapped around a staff, a medical symbol.

    Robin Rhoderick discusses getting a medical tattoo with Jeffery Grimet, owner of Inner Soul Ink, a tattoo salon in Mount Airy, Maryland. (VOA/A. Greenbaum)Robin Rhoderick discusses getting a medical tattoo with Jeffery Grimet, owner of Inner Soul Ink, a tattoo salon in Mount Airy, Maryland. (VOA/A. Greenbaum)
    x
    Robin Rhoderick discusses getting a medical tattoo with Jeffery Grimet, owner of Inner Soul Ink, a tattoo salon in Mount Airy, Maryland. (VOA/A. Greenbaum)
    Robin Rhoderick discusses getting a medical tattoo with Jeffery Grimet, owner of Inner Soul Ink, a tattoo salon in Mount Airy, Maryland. (VOA/A. Greenbaum)
    Grimet, who owns of Inner Sol Ink tattoo salon in Mount Airy, Maryland,  says the pre-session discussion with the customers is the most important part of the process.

    ”I can physically see what they actually have in their head that way I can actually take that and actually apply it to the design,” he says.

    He also leaves it to his customer to decide where to place the tattoo, but he says it should be in an accessible place on the body, so medical professionals can see it in case of an emergency.

    “Probably somewhere around the wrist or the wrist area," Grimet says, "so when they go to take their pulse, they see it immediately.”

    That’s exactly where Ryan Merchant decided to put his fifth tattoo more than a year ago.

    “I've always loved tattoos," he says. "It starts conversations. People seeing them, you explain them. Then, tattoos are art.”

    Merchant was diagnosed with diabetes when he was 13 years old. As an electrician, he finds a tattoo more practical and safer than the metal alert bracelet he used to wear.
    Electrician Ryan Merchant, a diabetic, finds a medical tattoo to be more practical and safer than the metal alert bracelet he used to wear. (VOA/A. Greenbaum)Electrician Ryan Merchant, a diabetic, finds a medical tattoo to be more practical and safer than the metal alert bracelet he used to wear. (VOA/A. Greenbaum)
    x
    Electrician Ryan Merchant, a diabetic, finds a medical tattoo to be more practical and safer than the metal alert bracelet he used to wear. (VOA/A. Greenbaum)
    Electrician Ryan Merchant, a diabetic, finds a medical tattoo to be more practical and safer than the metal alert bracelet he used to wear. (VOA/A. Greenbaum)

    “You don’t want to wear metal when you’re working with electricity, so I had always to take it off before my shifts,” he says.

    Tattooing is minor surgery, so patients should discuss it first with their doctors, says endocrinologist Dr. Saleh Aldasouqi of Michigan State University.

    “If not done right, if not done by licensed parlors, by clean and sterile tools, then patients can have infections,” says Aldasouqi, who believes the medical community should create guidelines to standardize the process.  

    Aldasouqi says diabetics should control their blood sugar before and during the procedure. He also says the medical community should come up with guidelines that standardize the process, including the location of the tattoo.
     
    “When it comes to patients with diabetes, there are certain areas in the body that should be avoided," he explains, "namely the feet because patients may have circulation problems and neurological problems where they may not feel the pain, when some of the consequences take place.”

    More of his patients are getting medical tattoos and are happy with them.

    “We can certainly call it a growing trend amongst patients in particular with diabetes,” says Aldasouqi.

    Grimet, the tattoo artist, says between 60 and 80 people have come in to his salon for medical tattoos.

    It's a new trend he expects to grow; one that's good for business as well as the health of his newest customers.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Elijah from: Hilo
    December 15, 2012 3:20 PM
    "...Do not mark your skin with tattoos...." Lev. 19:28, The Holy Bible.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora