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

    UN Observes International Day of Peacekeepers

    The U.N. honors 3,400 peacekeepers killed since first mission in 1948

    Video Rolling Thunder Tribute to US Military Turns into a Trump Rally

    Half-million motorcycles are expected to rumble Sunday afternoon from Pentagon to Vietnam War Memorial for rally in event group calls Ride for Freedom

    The Struggle With Painkillers: Treating Pain Without Feeding Addiction

    'Wonder drug' pain medications have turned out to be major problem: not only do they run high risk of addicting the user, but they can actually make patients' chronic pain worse, US CDC says

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora