A Huddersfield expert has been hailed a potential global lifesaver.

Dr David Swann, a lecturer at the University of Huddersfield, has won an international prize for his work in designing a lifesaving medical syringe.

He has been awarded the 2014 World Impact Design Award in Cape Town, and secured the plaudits of the World Health Organisation and businessman Theo Paphitis

The device has the potential to save hundreds of thousands of lives.

Dr Swann’s ABC Syringe – which changes colour in order to deter harmful reuse – won the award ahead of a temporary shelter for refugees, developed in tandem with the giant IKEA Foundation, plus a special low-emission stove that provides a safer cooking environment for women in the developing world.

The A Behaviour Changing Syringe is the full name given to Dr Swann’s invention, designed to tackle a massive global healthcare problem. he did the work at the University campus in Queensgate, Huddersfield.

It is estimated by the World Health Organisation that up to 40% of the 40 billion injections administered each year are delivered with syringes reused without sterilisation. This is responsible for large proportions of new cases of HIV and hepatitis, responsible for some three million deaths every year.

The life-saving medical syringe invented by Huddersfield expert Dr David Swann
The life-saving medical syringe invented by Huddersfield expert Dr David Swann
 

Dr Swann’s solution is a plastic syringe that is colourless while it remains in its nitrogen-filled pack. But exposure to air activates an ink applied to the label on the barrel. There is a brief treatment window – lasting about a minute – before the ink, having absorbed CO², turns the label to red. This alerts patients to the fact that the syringe has been used once and is therefore no longer sterile.

Hundreds of thousands of lives could be saved if the practice of reusing syringes could be drastically curtailed and the World Health Organisation has made safer injection practice one of its key priorities.

The announcement that Dr Swann had won the World Design Impact Prize was greeted as “fantastic news” by the University of Huddersfield’s Vice-Chancellor, Prof Bob Cryan, who added: “Research at our University is making a worldwide impact in many fields, and David’s designs in the field of health care are prime examples of this. He brings great credit to the University of Huddersfield.”

News of Dr Swann’s award was also hailed by famous business guru Theo Paphitis – who has links with the University of Huddersfield, having helped devise a unique degree course for entrepreneurs. “Many congrats to Huddersfield Uni designer David Swann for winning the World Design Impact Prize for lifesaving syringe,” Mr Paphitis tweeted to his thousands of followers, when he heard the news.

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