14-Year-Old Surgeon Wows Medical Professionals
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A medical researcher in Jacksonville, Florida has developed a new stitching technique that could possibly transform surgical procedures around the world. Perhaps the most fascinating detail is the researcher is a 14-year-old high school freshman.
Tony Hansberry II has created a new way to sew up hysterectomy patients in efforts to reduce the risks of post surgical complications and simplify the delicate procedure for less experienced surgeons, reports Jacksonville News. So far, the young man has only performed the surgery on dummies but has managed to fascinate the medical community enough to peak the interests of seasoned surgeons. On April 24 Hansberry presented his findings in the University of Florida's medical auditorium packed with board-certified physicians, with established practices older than Hansberry, eager to see what medical phenomenon awaits.
"I just want to help people and be respected, knowing that I can save lives," Hansberry said. He insists his extraordinary achievements are simply stepping stones to his aspirations of becoming a University of Florida-trained neurosurgeon.
Hansberry, whose mother is a registered nurse, is student at Darnell-Cookman Middle/High School - a magnet school with a primary focus of medical studies. For example, students will have mastered suturing techniques by the eighth grade. Last summer the 14-year-old interned at the University of Florida's Center for Simulation Education and Safety Research, where he began his research.
At the simulation center, where medical residents and nurses practice on dummies, the bashful student took a liking to Bruce Nappi, the center's administrative director. Nappi recognized the student's enthusiasm to learn and encouraged him to explore his medical know-how.
One day, an obstetrics and gynecology professor asked Hansberry and Nappi to help him figure out why no one was using a handy device that looks like a dipstick with clamps at the end, called an endo stitch, for sewing up hysterectomy patients. The endo stitch tool was difficult for many practitioners because it didn't properly close the tube where the patient's uterus was once situated. Hansberry believed using the instrument vertically instead of horizontally could make a difference and his estimations were correct.
"It was truly independent that he figured it out," Nappi said.
Hansberry, who has no formal surgical training, was able to increase stitching speed by three times with the endo stitch versus the conventional needle driver. Further study may prove the technique useful for new and seasoned surgeons worldwide.
"Tony often speaks in the highly technical, dispassionate language of doctors. In that respect, he's not the exception but the rule at Darnell-Cookman," said Angela TenBroeck, the school's medical lead teacher. "But he has surged ahead of others when it comes to surgical skills." She added, "I would put him up against a first-year med student. He's an outstanding young man, and I'm proud to have him representing us."
Hansberry's Friday presentation is a part of the university's medical education week, which highlights teaching developments and advancements.