Bob Hussey is a 62-year-old mechanical engineer who, thanks to his own experience as an ulcerative colitis patient, has created a new invention that could help a wide array of patients.
Hussey has lived with the condition for 24 years.
Sadly, his colon burst during a surgery in 2018 and therefore had to be removed. He had to use an ostomy bag which functioned as his colon. But, Hussey’s bag didn’t fit precisely over his incision. The poor fit made him prone to infection and made it harder for the incision itself to heal.
Over the last decade, the standard ostomy bag has improved. There are more models to choose from. Additionally, they are now safer, less likely to leak, less irritating, thinner, easier to use, and fit better than they used to. Never before has such progress been made. There are patients who have run marathons, swum long distances, and participated in a wide array of other activities while wearing the ostomy bag.
However, there is still much more work that must be done.
Hussey, with his engineer-trained brain, knew he could come up with a better system for fitting the ostomy bags.
Hussey used pieces of the cover of a telephone jack and zip ties to make his own bag fit better. Then, throughout his recovery, he began designing a separate device particularly for that purpose, that could benefit other patients.
His wife said that every day he worked on the invention, despite his weakness and lack of mobility. He lost 50 pounds after his surgery, and still, he would trek to the basement to work on his project.
Ostomy bags have a strap that connects it to the patient. Hussey invented a device that allows this strap to be attached to various parts of the bag’s port. This allows the strap to avoid the area of incision.
Maine Medical Center is now working to explore what other ways this device may benefit patients.
The device is still in prototype form and is being tested to analyze its best possible uses.
There is a patent pending for this device with the United States Patent Office.
“They’re inventing with empathy and understanding of what the patient is going through.”
Dan Hussey is Bob’s 31-year-old son. During his father’s surgery, Dan was a medical student at Tufts University Maine Track Program at Maine Med. Now, degree in hand, he is now working to help his father refine the device while in residency at Harvard Medical School. His goal is to help the device spread to a wider use.
He referred the device to The Innovation Cohort at Maine Med where it was quickly accepted. This program helps the ideas of patients and staff come to life, testing their potential and helping bring them into development.
If the prototype testing of this device continues to show its efficacy, there are many options for future paths. It could be sold to manufacturers or offered directly to the patients at Maine Med. To help manage the business side of things, the Hussey family has founded a limited liability company.
Hopefully, further tests will continue to show the benefit that this device could have for many patient populations and we will see it come to market soon.
You can read more about this device and the journey to its development here.