Thursday, 13 June 2013

Bili light

This is a borrowed post from Dr. Andy and Judy Bennett.  Original appeared on their Facebook page on June 13.


Some months ago, we got an email from an Austrlian high school senior (they don't use that term there, just "Grade 12"), who had build a bili light as a school project, and wanted to donate it to Nazarene Hospital. 

"Bili" is short for bilirubin, a substance that is normally present in everyone's blood, but in certain circumstances it is present in excess amounts in small babies, where it can do brain damage. Bilirubin is removed from our body by interacting with ultraviolet light in our skin. When we need to reduce the bilirubin levels quickly in babies, we expose them to UV light by using specially-designed lights. In the past fluorescent lights were the only real way to do this, but now LEDs can be designed to emit any wavelength of light, and bili lights are now made with those. We have not had any kind of bili light. Well, except sunlight, but as you can imagine, laying a tiny, critically-ill premature newborn out on the lawn isn't the way we prefer to do it. Some of our doctors have experimented with a small black light, but it's too small, and hasn't really worked. 

But Rebekah Clark built one, and has planned to donate it to us, along with a meter to monitor the amount of UV light the baby is receiving. We just got word that she is ready to send them to us. I asked her to send some photos of herself with the light before sending it off. I promised to send her pictures of the light in use here.

I asked Rebekah to share a little more about herself. This is what she wrote:

"My name's Rebekah Clark and I'm an 18 year old medical student in South Australia. I built the light as a school project for my final year of high school. My dad visited the US in January 2012 and when he came back he told me about a man he'd met who'd worked out how to make the bili lights. I got in contact with them, and using photos and a parts list, came up with a plan to make one on my own. I thought that making one would be a great idea for my 'Research Project' (a mandatory Year 12 subject where you pick something that interests you and use it to develop your research skills and other skills for later life). I successfully applied for medical school at the end of last year and am just finishing my first semester now."

Thank you, Rebekah!

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