Saving lives of new mothers through innovating Postpartum Hemorrhage Cup. Teen being awarded by PM.
“I was criticised at every step. But I pursued my aim”, says a Class 10 boy from Maharashtra, India. Ask his teachers about him and they would say that he is versatile and is ever-bubbling with enthusiasm. Along with proving his genius in solving complex math problems and doing serious science projects, you can also see him bagging prizes in chess, swimming, drama, and other competitions. His parents are often amazed at the level of focus and determination he displays. Above all, when the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi had described him as a ‘pioneering innovator’, we can understand what an impact he has created at a very young age. Without further ado, I will introduce you to Archit Rahul Patil, a young innovator whose efforts are helping bring solutions to complex problems in the field of medicine. Let me also tell you that you are going to read about a problem-solver whose product is helping doctors in measuring postpartum blood loss accurately within a short span of time, thereby saving the lives of new mothers.
A Continuous ‘Learner’:
Born on 2nd May 2006 in Jalgoan, Maharashtra, Archit Rahul Patil goes to Kashinath Palod Public School where he studies in Grade X. Born to Dr. Rahul Patil, an obstetrician and a gynaecologist and Dr. Archana Patil, an anaesthesiologist, Archit recollects how he accompanied his parents to where they worked, the Vansh hospital in Jalgaon in specific. As there was no one to look after young Archit at home, he would spend most of his time with his parents at the hospital. He also followed his parents to the hospitals they went to when they were called for help. It is there that he saw how they had attended the emergency cases. Ever since childhood, Archit has been an inquisitive child. He always made outstanding achievements in Mathematics and Science bagging numerous awards right from his early years of boyhood. Winning streaks national and international Math and Science Olympiads continued all his growing-up years. He always learnt from observations, through discussions and through experiments. With simple conversations he held with his parents at the most regular of times, he comes out with innovative ideas.
A Walk With Mother Has Made All The Difference:
One day, Archit went to a walk with his mother where he saw dogs fighting over sanitary napkins that lay on the roadside. He was intrigued by the scene and his mother stepped in to clear his ambiguity. She explained to the boy the importance of menstrual hygiene and how menstrual hygiene products work. She also talked about the lack of knowledge among the majority of girls and women about this, due to which they fall prey to deadly diseases. She also talked about how important is their safe disposal. Archit, who was in Grade VI and looking for a project to present at the 3rd level of Dr Homi Bhabha Young Scientist Competition, decided to take this up as his idea. He did not care for the criticism and opposition that came in from his mentors and went ahead to research more on the same and finally, his hard work in spreading awareness in schools, colleges and slums about menstrual hygiene, disposal of menstrual waste received its fruits. He was honoured with a gold medal by the renowned scientist Dr. Anil Kakodkar. This project introduced Archit to a product, the menstrual cup, that little did he knew at that time, would help him solve the much bigger problems in the days to come.
An Idea To Save Lives:
When Archit used to accompany his parents to the hospital, he usually heard them talking about delays in diagnosing the blood loss because of which the patient developed complications. He also noticed that most of the women across the globe die during pregnancy due to post-partum blood loss. With the knowledge of menstrual cups that he gained with his previous project; he devised an idea. He thought menstrual cups can be re-modelled so as to detect the amount of blood lost post-delivery. Until then, there were no devices that could measure blood loss accurately. "In the earlier methods, there was no way to exactly measure blood loss. There was only visual estimation, the figures were not exact and there was always a 50 per cent chance that the estimation was not correct, because of which doctors were unable to arrive at an exact diagnosis," he explains. Thus, Archit decided to make one and spent almost a year studying the existing methods and how they can be improved further. In 2018, he came up with the first prototype of the Postpartum Haemorrhage (PPH) cup inspired by the menstrual cup. Based on the design and function of the menstrual cup, Archit developed a PPH cup that comes to use after delivery. He designed the PPH cup out of a menstrual cup by cutting its bottom part and then joining the tubes to form the final model of the PPH cup. “I realised that most of the products that were available were either inadequate or inaccurate. So, I made some conscious changes to make my product sustainable and functional", he said.
He also mentions that this cup is made of medical-grade silicone and thus is easy to clean and can be re-used. Therefore, Archit’s PPH cup also cuts down on biomedical waste. He explains the function of the PPH cup and says that it is inserted into the birth canal. It consists of a tube and a collecting bag that helps in measuring the blood flow. He mentions that one of the two ports is attached to the collection bag while the other port allows periodic suction preventing blockage of the system due to blood clots. “It is user-friendly, lifesaving, environmentally sustainable and economically viable.”, he highlights. After discussing the idea with his parents, Archit showed the design to several doctors and health experts. With their suggestions and feedback, Archit zeroed upon the perfect design and tested the device first at the Krishna Hospital, Moraya Hospital and Vansh Hospital, in March of 2020. Ever since then, the PPH cup has been tested on more than thousands of patients. This innovation is saving lives in seven private hospitals in Jalgaon including the Vansh Hospital, Moraya Hospital, Shivam Nursing Home, Geetai Hospital along with three medical colleges in Aloka, Sevagram and Aurangabad. This Post-partum Haemorrhage (PPH) cup is helping doctors in Jalgaon, Akola, Sevagram and Aurangabad in Maharashtra to accurately measure post-partum blood loss within a short period of time as well as saving the lives of new mothers.
Sailing His Way Through The Rocky Path:
When we read Archit’s story, we might think that his journey towards innovating the PPH cup as well as bringing it to use might have followed a rosy path owing to his family background and the support he received. But let me tell you that it was not the way it seemed. Archit had to face several challenges all through his journey. Criticism poured in as soon as he disclosed his topic of study. Owing to the stereotypical mindsets of people, Archit had to listen to harsh criticism for working on something that is considered taboo. “Even women don’t speak about such things”, he was told. But he didn’t stop. He proceeded further to develop the product but faced challenges because of the non-availability of resources. “It was very difficult to challenge for me to communicate to the engineering people in series of meeting for mould development and its further rectification.”, he recounts. Archit also faced trouble in making the accessory unit, that is the customised collection bag. Currently, he is struggling to get approval for his invention from the drug controller of the government of India in order to make it accessible to maximum users.
Recognition For The Hard Work:
Archit was honoured with one of India's highest civilian honours for exceptional achievers under the age of 18, on Republic Day - the Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar 2021 for his excellence in the field of innovation. More than any award, the true reward and recognition, Archit says, comes when people find his product useful and life-saving. He recalls his moment of pride – “One obstetrician called me up to say thank you. Because of early alarm due to my PPH cup he could save maternal life by prompt treatment. When that lady along with her new-born baby came to meet me that was the biggest prize for me”. He also said that his project on menstrual hygiene also received wide acclaim and appreciation. “When I did my first research project on menstrual hygiene project, many young ladies from school, colleges, slum areas, even many female doctors wrote appreciation letters thanking me for spreading awareness about the sustainable menstrual hygiene products. Archit was also invited to present his innovation at the international conference of obstetricians - ABHIGYYAN 21. He also received an appreciation letter from Sir Arul Kumaran, Professor at St. George University in London, U.K. More than anything else, something that made him extremely happy is when his juniors started to derive inspiration from him by coming up with innovative ideas. This young innovator also emerged as a finalist at the annual American International Science and Engineering Fair, in which 80 countries from across the world take part. Archit extends his humble thanks to his principal Late Suhas Mulay who was responsible to develop a scientific temperament for him. He also says that he is grateful to his mentor, the principal of K.P.P.S, Jalgaon, Mr Amit Bhatiya. “He took a keen interest in my project work and guided me all along. He also allowed me to conduct a workshop in my school”, mentioned Archit.
The Road Ahead:
Archit wants to make the PPH cup more accessible for everyone in the days to come. "Right now, the cup costs Rs 500 (per piece) and we are giving it free of charge. If we are able to mass-produce, we can bring down to cost significantly," he says. He also wants to fit an inbuilt alarm system and suction system using artificial intelligence and machine learning. This sophomore who will be graduating high school in 2024 is also a STEM enthusiast and wants to use his knowledge in solving real-time problems. “My immediate targets in next five years are to have extraordinary academic success.”, he mentions. Archit also aspires to start a science/stem club for underprivileged kids. “I want to learn about AI and machine learning as well as python. After my high school graduation, I want to get into the best universities of the world to explore my academic and professional interest for my future career”, he says.
His Words Of Value:
Archit says that failures and criticism are a part of every journey and suggests that one should not stop for the fear of criticism. “Take it positively, work hard, learn from mistakes, pursue your goal and never ever stop, don’t let the success go to your head”, he says. He further says, "We need to think of using technology to come up with smart, sustainable solutions but at the same time try and avoid waste."
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