Abbott: From Summer Camp to Future Stem Leaders
For the second year, nearly 40 Abbott volunteers shared their passion for, and expertise in, science and engineering with local youth.
(Originally published on Abbott.com)
Exploring in childhood can lead to a fulfilling career in adulthood.
Just ask Abbott's (No. 10 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list) scientists and engineers who recently volunteered their time, talents and energies at a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) camp for girls.
To "help bring science and engineering to life through hands-on experiences that are interactive and fun," said John Frels, vice president of research and development for Abbott's diagnostics business.
And that's exactly what they did.
For the second year, nearly 40 Abbott volunteers shared their passion for, and expertise in, science and engineering with local youth as part of the iBIO Institute's STEM Girls Summer Camp. The Institute's EDUCATE Center – which hosted the week-long event – aims to inspire the next generation of innovators through industry-led STEM programs for teachers and students. Abbott was a sponsor of the camp, which took place near our company headquarters in Waukegan, Ill.
Thanks to Abbott's volunteers, more than 125 young girls in grades 3 through 8 had the chance to participate in Abbott-developed STEM activities. The students learned about:
- Bioluminescence – Studying how light is made by living organisms such as fireflies and deep-sea fishes, and learning about various species of fireflies, their habitat and luminescence patterns.
- Three-Dimensional (3D) Printing – Converting a two-dimensional design into a 3D object and learning how Abbott uses this printing technology as an engineering tool.
- Heart Health – Making stethoscopes and viewing demonstrations of cardiac catheters, stents and heart-valve models.
On the final day of the camp, family members were invited to attend a STEM fair where the students showed what they had learned during the week.
"We hope that these experiences will inspire girls to consider pursuing careers in science and engineering in the future," said John.
For more examples of Abbott's STEM education work, see this video of Abbott's female scientists sharing insights with girls on STEM, and this story highlighting Abbott's STEM programs to inspire the next generation.
Multiple chapter leaders of the tech education nonprofit in cities across the county, many of them allies, stepped down in protest.
Chapter leaders of Girl Develop It, a national tech education nonprofit, in Wilmington, Boston, Seattle, Denver, Atlanta, and Oakland, among other cities, have stepped down because of diversity and inclusion negligence.
The latest: Philadelphia's chapter leader, Susan Nieman, who resigned with an open letter on Tuesday:
"With no substantive change, this organization will continue along the same path: harming the marginalized people that they claim to be supporting and devaluing the mission statement, which harms the entire community. I cannot continue to support or promote an organization that fails to address issues of institutional racism with the sense of urgency that these matters deserve."
Advances in heart technology are helping people lead longer lives without a transplant.
Originally Published by Abbott.
In a strange way, getting robbed at gunpoint saved Tyrone Morris's life.
The scare eventually led to the discovery that Morris was living with congestive heart failure. Morris was just 38 years old, and his doctors were telling him that he had six months to live.
But thanks to three innovative pieces of heart technology from Abbott, Morris has been given a second — and even a third — chance at life.
This is his story.
A shocking diagnosis
On Sept. 14, 2011, Morris was working in the Milwaukee retail store he managed when two men entered the store around closing time. One intruder locked the doors; the other put a 9 mm pistol to Morris's head and demanded the money in the safe. His heart started racing — and didn't stop, even after the safe opened and the robbers left.
"I felt my heart drop in that moment," Morris said. "My heart just stopped working."
After that day, Morris says, his heart just felt worse and worse. About a year after the robbery, Morris was playing basketball when he noticed that he was having trouble getting up and down the court. This wasn't like him: He played college basketball at Crowley's Ridge College in Arkansas, and grew up working on a farm in rural Missouri.
Finally, Morris went to see his family doctor.
"She told me, 'Tyrone, we're taking you to the hospital,'" he said.
Morris refused to go. He went home. But his doctor called him repeatedly and urged him into going to the emergency room. Once Morris arrived at the ER, doctors almost immediately wheeled him back for surgery.
The diagnosis: congestive heart failure. Morris needed a pacemaker. He was just 38 years old — far too young for such a severe diagnosis, he thought.
"When I was first diagnosed, I didn't believe it," he said. "I never believed it until I got really sick with it."
Life-saving heart technology
Morris didn't have time to be sick.
He had a family to raise.
He had a restaurant, Big Country's Barbecue, to run.
He had his weekly bowling league — the sport he picked up when his heart problems prevented him from playing basketball.
Morris took his medications and visited his doctor regularly. But he was still leading a busy life, sometimes spending 14-hour days at his restaurant. About a year after his pacemaker was implanted, doctors discovered that his heart was retaining fluid — a dangerous complication for someone with congestive heart failure.
Morris's doctors recommended the CardioMEMS™ HF System. The heart failure monitoring system allows Morris's doctors to keep a close watch on him, wherever he is. Once a day, Morris lies on a pillow that measures his heart function, and the system wirelessly transmits those measurements to his care team.
"The CardioMEMS is excellent," Morris said. "It lets them know if my fluid is too high. It was a simple procedure."
But even with the pacemaker and CardioMEMS, Morris's heart kept getting worse. By 2014, Morris was unable to climb his stairs at home to bring in groceries. His heart was running out of time, his doctors said. He was going to need a new one.
When he was cleared for the transplant list, his doctors implanted Abbott's HeartMate 3™ left ventricular assist device (LVAD) — more commonly known as a heart pump — as a bridge-to-transplant therapy. The HeartMate 3 LVAD takes over the pumping function of your heart and can prolong the lives of those waiting for a transplant. It is also an option for those not eligible for a new heart.
But Morris didn't want a heart pump that would interfere with his life. So he asked for one small concession. Normally, the LVAD's wires come out of the right side of the body.
"I told my doctors I need them to come out my left side so I can continue to bowl," Morris said. "They made it work for me, and a week after I recovered and started bowling again, I bowled a perfect 300 game."
A stronger heart, a new outlook
With three heart technology devices keeping him alive, Morris is thankful for every day.
"I'm very thankful, very grateful," he said. "The changes that I've made, the technology, it gave me life, it gave me breath. It made me relive my life."
Morris regularly talks to congestive heart failure patients at the same hospital where he received treatment. He warns people not to ignore their diagnoses. He spent too much time denying his as his heart weakened, he says, and he encourages others not to make the same mistake.
"I tell everybody, don't take it for granted," he said. "Don't throw your diagnosis in the trash. It is real. It is serious. And if you catch it early, you can get the proper help."
He's often asked about how he's recovering from HeartMate 3 surgery, which can take months. Morris says that everything is what you make of it, and that it helps to have a strong support system — and a sense of humor.
"I crack jokes," he said. "I have fun, even when I'm down. I always tell myself every day is going to be a good day, especially having my wife wait on me hand and foot during recovery. We cracked jokes and made the best out of it."
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the HeartMate 3 as a destination therapy, which gives hope to people who are waiting for a transplant, such as Morris, as well as people who aren't eligible for one.
"I want a heart transplant, but if I had to live my life with the pump, I'd still be happy," he said. "I'd still do what I'm doing."
Thanks to his three Abbott heart devices, Morris is able to run his restaurant — where he's committed to serving all his food with no added salt. He's still shooting jumpers and bowling, still knocking down about 226 pins each game.
"I'm living the dream," he said. "Don't wake me up, either. Let me live."
Acquisition to further bolster Abbott's leading position in therapies for mitral valve disease, the most common type of heart valve ailment.
Abbott has announced that it has exercised its option to purchase Cephea Valve Technologies, Inc., a privately held medical device company developing a less-invasive heart valve replacement technology for people with mitral valve disease. Financial terms were not disclosed. Abbott provided capital and secured an option to purchase Cephea in 2015.
Abbott CFO highlights promising product pipeline and sustainable growth at key investor conference.
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The need for life-saving blood can increase during the winter months, right when donations lag.