“She’s Mother Theresa meets MacGyver” says Doug Broeska President of the CliniCard while visiting Sassoon Hospital in Pune, India. “She should probably at least be nominated for the Nobel Prize in Medicine.”
That’s an impressive statement but also accurate when it comes to Dr. Aarti Kinikar, Head of Pediatrics at Sassoon Hospital in Pune, India (Pune is a city of nearly 10 million, just south of Mumbai, and Sassoon General Hospital is the biggest public hospital in the region). During the H1N1 Flu outbreak last year (2009-2010), Dr Kinikar was faced with a medical emergency seemingly out of all proportion to anyone’s ability to deal with it. Bodies were literally piling up outside of the hospital morgue and she feared that most of the young children and babies that were coming to Sassoon with severe breathing problems would be added to the growing pile. The hospital had only 4 working ventilators and was facing a steady flow of children to the pediatric ward that quickly swelled to a deluge of over 1200, all of whom were in severe respiratory crisis.
As the numbers of very sick children grew so did Dr. Kinikar’s resolve. There had to be way to create the bit of air flow needed to keep a child’s lungs breathing. “The best medication is sometimes oxygen, and even though the children had made it to the hospital, without it they might die right in front of you…that’s a helpless feeling for a doctor” said Kinikar. Motivated by equal parts of desperation and inspiration, Dr. Kinikar rigged a simple breathing tube device only with materials on hand. The PNC pressure device called a “nasal bubble CPAP device” (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) miraculously worked for 85% of the children who were treated. Although bubble CPAP has been around for decades, the device she rigged was much less elaborate than the expensive tubing and valve configurations that are commercially available by the same name. “I was taking a risk,” Kinikar said. “I didn’t know whether people would back me using a technique which didn’t seem to have much scientific push.” As a result of her willingness to step outside of convention, an estimated 500 childrens’ lives were saved at Sassoon Hospital because her fast thinking in a time of extreme crisis. A few dollars worth of plastic tubing had taken the place of much more expensive devices which weren’t available to the hospital at the height of the emergency anyway.
Just as importantly, she has now shown the rest of the world how to rig this simple device which will undoubtedly be used in future medical emergencies everywhere a pandemic occurs.
Although soft spoken & diminutive in stature, her calm voice, measured words and resolve behind the eyes lets you know that she is certain of what must be done for her hospital. “The immediate crisis is past but we know that the next one may be right around the corner” says Kinikar. “We don’t want money” she says somewhat surprisingly, but goes on to explain. “We need equipment and supplies. Money just gets misdirected and anything we order though the local government takes a very long time to get here. If donations can come in the form of medical equipment like ventilators, we can cut through the red tape and start using them right away.” The recent flu outbreak underscored the need. “The little nasal bubble CPAP device,” now dubbed “Bubbles of Hope” by Dr. Kinikar, “helped pull us out of a crisis and saved many lives, but we need so much more on an ongoing basis for the next public health emergency.”
The owners of CCSVI Clinic and The CliniCard have jointly donated working capital and a pledge to purchase medical equipment on an ongoing basis for Sassoon Hospital. We hope the bit of personal money we have put up will attract some attention and challenge others to do the same.” says Broeska. “I don’t think there is a case in medical history where such a small amount of equipment could be proven to have gone so far. Anyone who wants to donate can do it through us. We’ll show you what your money bought and every penny will go to the purchase of medical supplies and equipment for Sassoon Hospital. Of course if you want to buy medical equipment directly for Dr. Kinikar, I’ve got their grocery list”. Please contact us at CCSVI Clinic on this site to donate.
Dr. Aarti Kinikar’s Philosphy:
Dr. Kinikar teaches her students to think things through.
“You must use your creativity and if you have the basic scientific knowledge, you will be able to do a lot of things with the medical supplies on hand in a hospital.”
Many areas of the world like the US and Europe are fortunate to be able to offer their patients the latest, most expensive medical technology. A recent study confirmed that US hospitals have more ventilators per capita than any other country. But in a severe pandemic or other extreme crisis, the number of patients could easily overwhelm the supply of medical equipment at any hospital. Rationing supplies and treatment along with prioritizing patients might look necessary but Kinikar’s experience points to another possible solution: “Just keep on thinking.” she tells her students.
In 2010, the B J Medical College Research Society awarded Dr. Kinikar the Suchintan trophy for her unique invention and the way she dealt with the crisis at Sassoon.
For more information on Dr. Kinikar and the bubble CPAP device she invented you may view: