Printed 22 Nov 2010 | The Telegram (St. John’s)
BY JAMES MCLEOD Republished with permission from the Telegram - www.thetelegram.com
Photo by James McLeod / The Telegram
It’s a deceptively simple device — two sticks, a hinge and a clip.
But it holds the potential to insert a bit of dignity and convenience into the lives of millions of people who live with an ostomy.
“I can’t speak for everybody, but if and when they get it off the ground, I would have one,” said Gerald Randell, who has had an ostomy for about two years.
“With this device that they’ve got, I chuck it in my pocket and I go.”
An ostomy is a surgical implant which diverts waste into a pouch attached to the body.
When Phil Rondeau got his ostomy several years ago, he didn’t like the situation.
“I was home, first day from the hospital, and I knew I didn’t like cleaning the pouch,” he said. “I didn’t like having to push the matter out; it never felt like it was clean.”
It didn’t take the inventor long to come up with a solution.
“I conceived how this would look and how this would work. I went to Canadian Tire and for seven dollars, I bought the parts,” he said. “For four years that I had my ostomy, I used it every day.”
An ostomy pouch looks like a hot water bottle — about 15 centimetres across and flexible. People with ostomies have to force the waste out of the pouch using their fingers, then rinse it out with water and deodorizer.
The device Rondeau invented instead fastens over the top of the ostomy, and smoothly forces all the material out.
Rondeau has recently teamed up with Paul Foley and Tony Janes to form Uncle Phil’s Think Tank — a company aimed at marketing Rondeau’s inventions.
The pouch draining device is the only one they’ve patented so far, so it’s the only one the men would talk about.
Janes said when they first approached patent lawyers about the idea, they balked.
“When we first sent it in, they said, is this really unique?” he said. “They did their due diligence, and they said send the file up.”
With patent in hand, the Newfoundland company is now casting out looking for a manufacturing company to licence the product and mass produce it.
Rondeau said it should be fairly cheap to mass-produce, and if they can get it to market, it should make the day-to-day lives of people with ostomies that much easier.
He said the only reason this likely hasn’t come along already, is because there’s such a social stigma around having an ostomy.
“No one wanted to talk about squeezing poop out of a bag.”