TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News at 10) — Two years ago, a team of local doctors developed a test stock that is now used around the world. In the ongoing coverage of Women’s History Month, CW44 news highlights a doctor who changed the history of the pandemic that started in Tampa.
“It could take years to do this and we’re trying to do it in a matter of days.”
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In March 2020, at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr. Summer Decker of USF and her partner team at Tampa General Hospital endlessly to fight the virus.
“I lead the team that does all the 3D modeling, computer modeling, and 3D printing for the clinical cases that are happening here at our hospital and other hospitals in the area,” said Dr. Decker, who serves as Director of 3D Clinical Applications in both USF Radiology & Tampa General Radiology. But medical teams around the world faced a second crisis: a shortage of PPE supplies.
“And so we were sitting here, there was an email sent out by our deans saying that these are the things we are short of. And one of the things that caught my attention there was the nasopharyngeal swab,” she explained. That nasal swab was made abroad. “So when those borders closed internationally, we couldn’t access it anymore.”
To continue treating the overwhelming influx of patients, Dr. Decker and her team brainstormed an alternative solution.
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“What if we could make a 3D printed version of the nasopharyngeal swab and would it even work?”
So the Radiology and Infectious Diseases teams teamed up to develop a 3D-printed nasal swab. Then they tested it.
“I got a call from the virology team,” Dr. Decker himself. “They said, ‘not only does it work, but it also works better than the traditional swab,'” she laughed.
But the work was not yet over. “We realized that the whole world was in crisis.” The team of doctors shared those records with hospitals around the world within weeks. “We were blown away! We have more than 80 million in more than 60 countries. I received over 4,000 emails from people all over the world asking for help in one night.”
She and her team made history in the medical field.
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“Women’s History Month is very important because you don’t often see a lot of women in science,” she explained. “Talk to those little girls like I was, to see someone in this role who can change the world, that means more to me than anything else.”