AN OPERATION THEATRE IN A BACKPACK
Dinoj Joseph was in the news recently for designing a cost effective, portable Operation Theatre.He shares with us this remarkable journey of understanding his talents and using it for the needy.
Dinoj, thanks for taking the time to talk to Kairos. Please tell us a bit about yourself, your Christian formation and how you came into Jesus Youth?
There’s a lot to wonder about how beautiful God makes our life if we surrender our life to him, I could see this manifested throughout our life. Being born and brought up in a middle class catholic family my parents enlightened me with catholic richness.
My brother and I studied in a school near our village; my fascination was more on the practical implications of concepts, rather than just parroting them. Tinkering stuff and making something out of it was my favourite hobby. Engineering was always a fascination for me and I decided to make it my career. During my preparation for engineering, my elder brother introduced me to Jesus Youth at Jubilee Mission Medical college, in Kerala. Soon Jesus Youth became an integral part of my life. God was kind to me and I got admission for Mechanical engineering at NSS College of Engineering, Palakkad. A beautiful college with an active JY group, the prayer meetings were conducted at the nearby church. My beloved JY seniors helped me to grow in personal prayer and to participate in the sacramental life of the Church in its fullness. Gradually God was nurturing me by making me a part of Thrissur sub-region team and the ‘Medical-Engineering student’s ministry’ Central team, Kerala.
That was indeed a time of great formation. Tell us where the Lord led you after your studies.
After graduation, I worked for a year at Palakkad, and then moved to an offshore refinery at Abu Dhabi. There was no way to attend Holy Mass or to be part of a prayer group. I found myself in a job I never wanted to do. However, the formation I got from the prayer group and my faith helped me handle the situation, and balance my work-life situation. I worked for 3 years in Abu Dhabi; the time I spent there was a time of self-realization, which gave me clarity on what I wanted to be. Even though the job was good enough to meet my financial needs, I couldn’t find a good enough reason to pursue it. So I decided to do something which I had always loved to do – Industrial design. Preparing for it was hard, but it was fun to do it with Jesus and I finally got admission at IDC, IIT Bombay. Here again I was blessed with a beautiful prayer group and found everything I was missing abroad.
You have been in the news lately regarding your ‘Portable Operation Theatre’ project. Tell us a bit about that.
While working abroad, I was inspired by the quality of life and health care facilities offered at a developed nation, and I always wondered whether it was possible to bring down the cost of the most critical healthcare services (this thought was the inspiration to take on the project) so as to benefit the poor in a country like India. After joining IIT Bombay for Master’s, I decided to work in a domain that had the potential to majorly improve the health care of people in developing and poor countries. With this intention, I travelled to the interiors of Ladakh, Maharashtra and Gujarat, and had discussions with doctors and clinical experts working over such remote low resource areas.
I wanted to create solutions that were both efficient as well as cost-effective to enhance health care. So I decided to work on the design of a portable Operation Theatre (OT) for remote and low resource areas. It is estimated that there are about 5 billion unprivileged people across the world that have little or no access to safe surgery, resulting in about 18 million deaths every year due to the lack of safe surgical care. If a medical emergency occurs at a remote and inaccessible location and a surgical procedure needed to be done, either it would have to be done in a nonsterile environment with minimum facilities, or the patient would have to be transported over long distances to the nearest hospital. Both options are equally risky and more often than not, has the potential of worsening the condition of the patient. Even if portable surgical equipment and auxiliary facilities are available in the market, creating and maintaining a sterile atmosphere for conducting the surgery is still a major challenge. The user research conducted in the interiors of India validated the need for a portable OT. The studies also helped me to realize the pathetic situation of health care in our country, especially for the under privileged.
Praise God. So tell us a bit about some of the advantages of the Portable OT .
The new design enables surgeons to conduct open surgeries like caesarean section, gastrointestinal open surgeries and so on, in a clean environment comparable to the conditions in the best operating rooms across the globe. This product will be ideal for medical camps, disaster management, trauma care and the like. The design is quite different from existing mobile Operation Theatres, which are set up inside a vehicle. The “Portable OT” is foldable and all of its parts can be packed into a backpack. The entire OT with its equipment can be assembled on- site itself and can be transported by three to four people. While designing it, I made sure that there was no compromise on health and sanitation. The feature of the sterile enclosure is such that air from the inside can escape out, but the air outside is blocked from coming inside as purified air is maintained at a positive pressure inside the sterile enclosure. The portable OT comprises a sterile plastic enclosure fitted with surgical gowns, a collapsible table, a hand-wash unit, surgical instrument box, an air purifier and a mini air conditioner. This invention is specially designed keeping in mind the needs of medical camps, organ donations, trauma care, disaster-prone areas and rural parts of the country. The prototype of the portable operating room was showcased at IIT-B’s 5th “Annual Symposium and Medical Device Expo”. Now the product is in testing and validation phase, and will soon hit the market.
That’s quite an achievement, Dinoj. So what would you like to tell all those young people who are reading this and maybe, getting inspired to make a difference in the lives of people around.
As a Jesus youth, I always had a strong notion that along with excelling in spiritual and personal life, we are equally responsible to excel in our professional lives too. When I say excelling in professional life, it’s not just about making money or reaching a good position at work. Instead, we have to identify the unique talents which God has gifted us and to make use of the gifts of Holy Spirit to nurture it. When we have been fortunate enough to get a good education and have a good skill set, it is our responsibility not just to accrue opportunities but also to create them.
I realize there’s still a long way to go but as the word of God says “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” Matthew:33
As shared with the Kairos Global Editorial team