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Dr. Fred Burbank, Melody Burbank, Dr. Louis Keith, and Dr. Mahantesh Karoshi in London.

Dr. Fred Burbank, Melody Burbank, Dr. Louis Keith, and Dr. Mahantesh Karoshi

 

Our story begins over 15 years ago, when Fred Burbank and Mike Jones first started working together to invent and develop medical device technologies for women’s health. In 1997, Fred and Mike incorporated a new medical device company called Vascular Control Systems, Inc., where they developed several women’s health devices, one of which was for occluding the uterine arteries to treat uterine fibroids. As Fred and Mike progressed in their research of this device for uterine fibroid treatment, they realized that its non-invasive approach to the uterine arteries might also be used to treat postpartum hemorrhage (PPH). So, Fred and Mike worked to develop a similar, but different and new device for treating PPH by uterine artery occlusion. They patented this device and tested it in two small, IRB sponsored clinical studies in a U.S. hospital. The results of these studies suggested that the device is safe and effective. Not too long after completing this clinical research, Fred and Mike sold their start-up and its obstetrics and gynecologic tools (including the device for treating PPH) to Johnson & Johnson.

Around the same time, Fred, Mike, and their wives, Melody and Tiffany, decided to start a non-profit organization, the Salt Creek International Women’s Health Foundation (SCIWHF), that would provide simple medical device solutions to address health problems experienced by women in lower-resource areas of developing countries. Fred had recently published his first book, Fibroids, Menstruation, Childbirth, and Evolution: The Fascinating Story of Uterine Blood Vessels, and gifted all proceeds from it to SCIWHF. This became the first funding for the Foundation’s work.

In 2009, Fred received an unexpected email from Dr. Mahantesh Karoshi, a distinguished OB-GYN practicing in London. Dr. Karoshi had discovered the device on the U.S. Patent Office website and recognized its potential to provide a simple solution for the treatment of PPH in a lower-resource setting.

As time passed, Fred and Mike noticed that J&J had not furthered work with the device to treat PPH, nor had the company marketed or sold it. So, Fred and Mike decided to request that J&J return the device to SCIWHF, where it would have the potential to save women’s lives at birth in developing countries. J&J agreed to gift the device for treating PPH, along with the patents and a generous cash award to SCIWHF.

Together, Fred and Melody traveled to London where they were met by the company of Dr. Karoshi and his mentor, another well-known and distinguished maternal health expert, Dr. Louis Keith. There, the four discussed the great impact that the device could have in many developing nations and began to brainstorm in which countries SCIWHF could perform definitive clinical testing of the device. Today, SCIWHF continues to formulate a definitive clinical trial of the device and is working to raise the funds needed to perform this clinical research.

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