How a Doctor Saved a Child with a MacGyver Medical Device

2 Min Read
How a Doctor Saved a Child with a MacGyver Medical Device

A robotic surgeon got creative rigging together ordinary objects into a nebulizer when a child suffered an asthma attack on a transatlantic flight.

Brian Buntz and Chris Newmarker

While flying from Spain to the United States, the physician Khurshid Guru learned there was a toddler on board having an asthma attack. While the child had asthma medicine, it was stowed away with the plane's checked luggage.

Guru, MD--who is director of robotic surgery at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, NY--rigged together a nebulizer using an empty water bottle, a plastic cup, some tape, and an oxygen tank, according to media reports on ABC News, Fox News, and elsewhere.

The doctor was able to find an adult with an asthma inhaler so that the 2-year-old could receive oxygen and medication at the same time through the makeshift nebulizer, which ensured that the medicine was effectively delivered to the child's lungs. Guru's actions on the September 18 Air Canada flight are credited with helping to save the child, whose oxygen levels were falling to dangerously low levels.

Some compared Guru's actions to MacGyver, the fictional U.S. government agent in the 1980s and '90s TV show who shied away from guns and instead solved problems with devices created from ordinary objects. One of the greatest hacks of all time involved NASA engineers figuring out how to use random objects (and a lot of duct tape!) to fit a square carbon dioxide scrubbing canister into a round hole in order to save the Apollo 13 astronauts.

At the end of the affair, the child's oxygen levels had rebounded to a level of 94%.

It is but the latest example of necessity creating some do-it-yourself medical device creation. (Discover five reasons DIY medical device innovation happens. See our features on clever DIY medical devices and top DIY medical devices for more examples of DIY innovation.)

Brian Buntz is the editor-in-chief of MPMN and Qmed. Follow him on Twitter at @brian_buntz.Chris Newmarker is senior editor of MPMN and Qmed. Follow him on Twitter at @newmarker

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