Danielle Zurovcik

Finalist 2013

Danielle Zurovcik

WorldWide Innovative Healthcare (WiCare)
Worldwide Innovative Healthcare designs and produces a mechanical negative pressure wound pump for chronic wounds.

When Danielle Zurovcik, 32, was a Master’s student at MIT, her class was asked to find a cheap way to bring negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) to populations in Honduras. Danielle became passionate about the project, changing her thesis to develop a solution for it. ‘NPWT is the application of a low vacuum to a wound cavity,’ she explains. ‘Treatment involves filling the wound with gauze, sealing it with tape and applying a vacuum over it, 24 hours a day, seven days a week until typically it heals.’ This can take anything up to four months.

‘The vacuum pulls on the cells, causing them to divide, which means less scarring. It also reduces the risk of infection by removing fluid in the wound,’ she continues. NPWT is often applied to diabetic foot ulcers – shown to cause 84% of leg amputations among diabetic populations – but all chronic wounds can be treated this way, from bedsores to venous ulcers and open wounds in conflict or disaster zones, where health and hygiene conditions are not conducive to healing.

‘The first NPWT devices using an electronic pump were launched around 1995,’ Danielle explains. These are expensive and require electricity to operate, neither of which are viable in most developing countries. There is actually quite a history around electronic NPWT, which has been the object of a bitter and costly patent war. Meanwhile, Danielle has come up with a Wound-Pump of her own, a mechanical model where the pump is compressed by hand every two or three days. ‘It costs under US$3 to manufacture.’

‘The Wound-Pump is basically two components, a pump and a seal, connected by a tube.’ The pump is made from a blow-moulding process, the same used to make plastic water bottles. The equation is simple: sustainable means affordable therefore low distribution costs, i.e. local manufacturing. ‘Almost any country can make water bottles and access the technology.’