Home-built phototherapy saved an infant’s life

Dr Kanav Kahol showed unique innovation of Phototheraphy that saved a newborn baby, getting cured at home from jaundice

Phototherapy, Home-built phototherapy, COVID19, Jaundice, Bilurubin, Dr Kanav Kahol

COVID19 has made even the joyful act of becoming a parent full of uncertainties and fear.  An infant born in the middle of this epidemic was found to have symptoms for jaundice. He was born healthy with blood group A+, while his mother was A-. After, getting discharge from the hospital the infant started showing yellow, which is a symptom of jaundice.

The infant’s entire test was done and his bilurubin readings came out to be on a higher side showing 13.9. The hospital suggested to not get admission for the infant because any individual having ill disease might get infected with Covid19. In normal situation they would have suggested two days of phototherapy which is a well established treatment administered in Newborn Intensive Care Units. The family took advice from Dr. Kanav Kahol brother of the mother and uncle to the newborn on what to do.

Dr Kanav Kahol did his research and built a phototherapy unit for the infant at home. Dr Kanav found out that the phototherapy systems used 450nm lights which is also the light used in aquariums to light them up. Meanwhile, he went to Daryaganj, found out that 6 of these lights can be bought for Rs 250 each of them and by using materials which can be found at home helped him to develop a home phototherapy unit.  He also used light meter tocheck that the light was at the right luminance levels.

The system was built with utmost care. After all this wasn’t a demo, it was to be built to keep the inventors’ own nephew out of hospital. Dr Kahol worked by first drawing out the concept, validating it with known research papers and consulted pediatricians while building it. Care was taken for it to be robust last daily use and protect the child with accessories like eye cover. The entire system was built in less than Rs 2000.

Dr Kanav Kahol, said, “We will be releasing the design of this in open source so that the people in rural India can be benefited from this. And, I would like to make this phototherapy unit efficient to all the clinics or hospital. Normally, phototherapy units are quite expensive and can run into lakhs of rupees. Hospitals charges for this treatment might cost an individual from 10,000 to 25,000 per day. Here I have built this simple elegant system which can be used at the time of pandemic in their homes and with the help of IT software we can even monitor the progress.”

Dr Kanav added, “This is a simple innovation and one that probably exemplifies how medicine will change in a post COVID world. One doesn’t need to be in a secondary care facility for newborn jaundice. However many children do have newborn jaundice and a large fraction of them could benefit by this simple innovation. One could also add a baby warmer and digitize the system to allow for a remote monitoring and therapy system. It is hence not just a solution for rural India but a solution of at-home care for both rural and urban world.  I look forward to sharing the design with innovators worldwide and developing this further. We may save a few lives and definitely keep people out of the hospital and safe at their homes.”