In 2012, 21-year-old engineer Sivakumar Palaniswamy witnessed what he described as a heartbreaking sight in an infant care unit at a renowned hospital in India: A single halogen bulb hung from the ceiling, illuminating several newborns in bassinets, purportedly for therapeutic purposes.
The bulb was to treat newborns suffering from jaundice, a condition that causes yellowing of skin. The skin discoloration takes place due to the accumulation of a yellowish pigment called bilirubin, produced as a byproduct of the breakdown of red blood cells.. In the most severe cases, the condition can result in deafness, cerebral palsy or other forms of brain damage.
Six out of every 10 infants worldwide are born with jaundice. It is treated with the help of phototherapy — exposing a newborn to certain wavelengths of light for prescribed periods of time.
However, in the hospital in India, it didn’t take Palaniswamy long to figure out that a single halogen lamp wasn’t an appropriate or adequate solution to the problem. Read more.