Thanks To This Doctor, Cancer Patients Are Now Getting Their Speech Back For Just Rs 50

Throat cancer patients often lose their voices after surgeries and not everyone can afford speech rebuilding devices. To the relief of such deprived patients, Dr Vishal Rao, a Bangalore-based oncologist and head and neck surgeon, invented a voice box which costs only Rs 50.

Losing the ability to speak has an evident emotional effect on the psyche of the patients. “When the voice box of patients is removed during surgery, they crave to speak. As if the trauma of the disease is not enough, the shock of having lost their voice takes a toll on them, emotionally,” said Dr Rao.

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The prosthesis devices that are chiefly available in the markets costs around Rs. 20,000 and it has to be changed every six months. This exorbitant amount is not affordable for many poor cancer patients. To their relief, Rao’s voice box costs only Rs 50 and it can bring back their speech.

The prosthesis devices that are chiefly available in the markets costs around Rs. 20,000 and it has to be changed every six months. This exorbitant amount is not affordable for many poor cancer patients. To their relief, Rao’s voice box costs only Rs 50 and it can bring back their speech.

“My objective was to design something that is affordable and can give them their voice back,” said the doctor after coming up with the aid so impactful that even underprivileged people can afford it.

The device weighs around 25 grams and measures just 2.5 cm. The device is named ‘Aum’.  ‘Aum’ is the first sonic resonance that this universe ever experienced. It refers to the birth of the universe. “Regaining one’s voice is so much like a rebirth,” said Rao.

Dr Rao’s friend Shashank Mahesh, an industrialist, helped the doctor to deal with the financial aspects of the project. Dr. Rao provided the technical inputs whereas his project partner Shashank Mahesh brought in the industrial expertise and ensured the feasibility of the project. Though the voice box costs Rs. 50, they called it a $1voice box to match the international standard.

“We imported platinum cured silicone (strong and flexible casting compounds) from Germany to design the prosthesis. We had to make sure it didn’t react with body tissues,” said Dr Rao.

Ramakrishna, a 55-year-old watchman, suffering from throat cancer, was the first person to benefit from this phenomenal device. Previously, he was given the western version of voice prosthesis. It had a shelf life of six months but due to its high price, Ramakrishna had stretched it for two more years.

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“He came to me with tears in his eyes saying that food was leaking through the prosthesis. Our innovation was just about ready and we offered it to him for Rs 50. He regained his speech and returned with a million dollar smile, telling me that he was doing fine. That was the biggest gift for me,” said Dr Rao.

The $1 prosthesis has been successfully attached on three patients of HCG (chorionic gonadotropin) so far. This exemplary device has already won the state innovation award at a recent conference of oncologists. The duo who invented the device will keep a track on the patients for three months and they will upgrade the device if necessary. The ethical committee and the scientific committee at HCG has also approved further research on the device.

This revolutionary device will finally be able help disadvantaged cancer patients. The one dollar device should be able to bring million dollar smiles on millions of faces and we cannot be more proud of them and their innovation.

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