Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap…

In 2009 I was invited to work on a device that would improve BPH (enlarged Prostate) surgery for patients and physicians. The long-standing procedure at the time left patients with a long, painful recovery and the prospect of wearing an adult diaper the rest of their life. The new device would have a quick recovery, be much quicker and easier to use, be nearly painless, and would restore the patient to normal life almost instantly.

I have always loved working on devices that are going to have a positive impact on people’s lives, and out of our 30 years of medtech development work, this was one of those golden opportunities.

At the time I was developing the technology, it never crossed my mind that someday I would be the recipient of its benefits.

Michael Hoey (founder of Francis Medical) came up with the idea of using steam to denature cell membranes and create lesions to reduce the size of the prostate. He thought of this while working on the carburetor of his race car… an ingenious concept. I was fascinated by this concept and gladly joined the team to develop the device.

In 2014 we tested several concepts with physicians at a conference in Florida (and the team taught me how NOT to wakeboard at that event). We took what we learned from the physicians and developed a final concept that went into clinical trials.

By 2018 the trials were over, sales had begun, and Boston Scientific acquired the device. It is now being widely used to perform this surgery in a much more painless, efficient and user-friendly way.

In 2021 I was diagnosed with BPH. I am so glad I got to know Mike and his team so well during the research for the project. Doing human factors work for his team was fun and full of memories that I will always retain. Providing the usability engineering and user centered design work for the device was rewarding both in the work itself, knowing your work will be helping others, and in getting to know so many talented team members to well.

When I got my diagnosis, I reached back out to Mike right away to find out who the best local urologist was who was using the rezum treatment. This Friday I go in to Minnesota Urology to get this procedure (rezum) performed on me.

I once heard the late Earl Bakken, inventor of the pacemaker, talk about how he never thought that the device he invented would one day be used to keep himself alive. I thought that was a nice “full-circle” delivery of good karma as a result of using his talents to help other people. This week, here I am thinking the same thing. Although this surgery is not about saving my life, It is definitely a major quality of life event that I now get to reap the benefits of. Like many things in life, if we focus on helping others, someday it could get paid forward back to us. It’s not our motivation for helping to improve other people’s lives, but sometimes it is an unexpected reward.