A student at Olathe South High School in Olathe, Kansas spends time in her computer-aided design (CAD) class working on a prototype to improve the C02 laser machine for the biomedical engineering department of Olathe Medical Center. This machine is used in heart surgeries. Olathe South High School senior Lindsey Eddings made contact with Olathe Health hoping to gain knowledge and experience in the biomedical field. What she found was an opportunity that she couldn’t pass up.
“When Lindsey made contact with Olathe Health, we received an answer that we had to read a few times to understand,” Olathe South CAD teacher Jason Smith said. “Once we figured out what they were asking for, she hit the ground running.”
The C02 laser, commonly known in the medical field as a transmyocardial revascularization laser, is used in patients who have recently suffered a heart attack. The purpose of the machine is to puncture holes in the wall of a heart that needs extra blood flow to ensure the tissue doesn’t die. Blood rushes to the punctures and starts the healing process, rejuvenating the endangered tissue.
The machine uses C02 and when the tube that contains the laser burns out, it often takes several hours to replace and ensure the accuracy of the machine.
“The arm of the machine has 12 mirrors to reflect the laser beam,” Eddings said. “The first mirror is right above the C02 tube and you must remove that mirror to replace the tube.”
Currently, adjusting the mirror takes hours of minor and strategic adjustments. Eddings was inspired to change the process and help to make calibration more efficient. Using a 3-D printer, Eddings has fashioned a prototype device that attaches to the laser and allows for the mirror to be temporarily displaced to exchange C02 tubes. The goal is that her device will ensure exact placement of the mirror without having to recalibrate the entire machine. After several trips to Olathe Medical Center, she’s close to achieving her goal.
In her fourth year in the CAD program, Eddings has run the gamut of career interests.
“My dad used to build houses so I initially was interested in architecture,” said Eddings. “I then wanted to become an anesthesiologist but ultimately became inspired to do something in the engineering industry. After doing some research, I found that biomedicine combined both interests.”
Just like a laser beam, her interests perfectly aligned for her postgraduate studies. After high school, Eddings will be attending the University of Arkansas to study biomedical engineering.
“She will undoubtedly be successful wherever her path takes her,” Smith said. “Lindsey is a great example of a student who is charting her own course, and is picking up the experiences along the way that will lead to success.”
Cody Kennedy is the communications and media manager for Olathe Public Schools in Olathe, Kansas.
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