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San Luis High School Students Head to International Competition for Medical Innovation

Two San Luis High School students are heading to an international competition this summer for improving upon a medical device.  For the Arizona Science Desk, Maya Springhawk Robnett reports…

17-year-old Kathy Angulo and 18-year-old Alma Vizcarra are San Luis High School students.  The two innovators are part of the Health Care Occupational Students of America, or HOSA, club at their school.  This past April they won First Place for Medical Innovation at HOSA’s Spring Leadership Conference.

Medical innovation requires the students to improve upon an already existing medical device.  The students chose to improve a Gastrostomy Tube because Angulo’s brother, who has cerebral palsy, lives with one.

“You push it back in," Angulo demonstrated, "you pull it, and you take out the tube.”

A G-tube is a feeding tube implanted into the stomach if a patient has lost the ability to swallow safely.  Complications with the water-filled balloon used to anchor the device could send a patient to the ER.  And Vizcarra said that’s what they focused on.

I feel proud of ourselves for being women—for being <i>Hispanic</i> women representing a school in a medical competition.

“When you open an umbrella, you push it and it opens and you pull it and it closes," Vizcarra said. "So, what if we do the same thing and just put like an umbrella inside of your body instead of a balloon pump?”

The Spring Conference judges were so impressed by their prototype and design they encouraged the students to patent the device.  Angulo said she is proud of what their achievements say about their community and themselves.

"I feel proud of ourselves for being women—for being Hispanic women," she emphasized, "representing a school in a medical competition, which is…I think it’s something big.”

Angulo is working toward becoming a doctor and Vizcarra plans to join the military.  The two are headed to Internationals June 20th in Orlando, Florida.