Man creates medical device to save his own life
In 1992, Tal entered a genetic study and found that, as many other Marfan Syndrome patients, his aortic root was very enlarged. In 2000, during a regular check-up, he was told to consider pre-emptive surgery. However, traditional surgery is lengthy and complex as it replaces the ascending aorta by an artificial graft. Also, the patient has to take anticoagulant drugs for the rest of their life. Not liking the scenario, Tal started thinking of alternatives. Being a process engineer, he compared his enlarged aorta to a plumbing problem, so he thought that he had to create something that would act like an insulation tape, that could be wrapped around the outside of the aorta. Together with his doctor, they developed the final prototype, the ExoVasc®. The device was placed on Tal during a two-hour surgery, in 2004. “To build teams, raise the finance, run the project AND volunteer to be the first patient was not so easy, particularly as I was trying to operate as a rational project manager when I knew the outcome of the project could have such a profound impact on my future health”, he explained.
The ExoVasc®, Personalised External Aortic Root Support, is a custom-made external support made to exactly match the patient’s aorta and is then placed around it. Since the vessel and the valve remain intact, the surgery is more straightforward and there is no need for the patient to take anticoagulants. Tal was awarded the Patient Innovation award in 2015.