Faculty member wins grant for wound drain device

Peggi White and son Beau Barber

After son’s surgery, Peggi White worked to develop innovative wound drain holder

Beau Barber recovers in hospital

After surgery to remove a golf ball-sized tumor from under his tongue, Peggi White’s oldest son, Beau Barber, had a Jackson-Pratt drain inserted in his neck to help remove excess fluid.

Standard practice called for pinning a bulb to his hospital gown, connected to the insertion point with a tube. But Barber noticed whenever his gown moved – a frequent occurrence – it pulled at the drain and caused strain on the wound.

“Mom, there has to be a better system for this,” White recalls her son saying.

White, MS ’89, FNP-BC, CADC, MAC, agreed. Three years later, White – a graduate of UIC Nursing Peoria and current simulation lab coordinator – had a provisional patent for a wound drain holder. She also recently won a grant through the 2021 Chancellor’s Translational Research Initiative to advance her research toward commercialization.

“This is just the type of creative thinking about a clinical problem that nurses are particularly well-prepared to address,” says UIC Nursing Dean Terri Weaver, PhD, RN, FAAN, ATSF, FAASM. “Peggi took a common clinical problem and worked to develop a very unique solution.”

A way forward

Barber’s tumor was benign, and he is now a doctoral student in agricultural and biological engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. As her son recovered from surgery, White had ideas for a less cumbersome drain holder, but “no way to follow up on them,” she says.

Serendipitously, a year later, White began working as simulation lab coordinator at the UIC Nursing Urbana. Shortly after that, a representative from the mechanical engineering department inquired if White had any ideas for capstone senior projects. It was the opportunity she’d been seeking. White, who earned her master’s degree at UIC Nursing’s Peoria Campus, soon began working on a design for a wound drain holder with four engineering students: Faisal AlSayed, Jacey Lambert, Poom Prasopsukh and Amol Rairikar.

“Even though my son has fully recovered, this collaboration will hopefully result in a product that will improve the comfort of wound drains for many more individuals,” she says.

With assistance from UIC’s Office of Technology Management, White received a provisional patent at the end of last year. The innovation grant, up to $25,000, will allow her to reproduce several of the prototype and possibly pursue a clinical trial.

Photos and a detailed description of the drain are not being shared due to the provisional nature of the patent and while the prototype is studied.