DeKalb, IL — A 17-year-old from Iowa has invented a cost-effective way to detect surgical infections with sutures that change colors.
Dasia Taylor created surgical sutures that change color to indicate whether a patient’s wound is infected. Taylor said she created the color changing sutures, in 2019, due to the alarming number of deaths incurred by those who undergo surgery in developing countries.
“I came up with color-changing stitches that provide early detection for infections, with the specific focus on surgical site infections in developing countries, because those can be very deadly if they're found too late,” Taylor told PBS.
Around 5 billion people do not have access to surgical care worldwide, with 9 out of 10 people struggling to access basic surgical services in low- and middle-income countries, the World Health Organization has found.
Taylor, who graduated in June, said in order for the stitches to change color, she dyes them in beet juice because beets are natural indicators and when pH levels change, so does the color.
In March 2020, she entered her project into the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. While there, she noticed she was the only Black person in the competition.
“Being in the room knowing stereotypes were flying and to be able to prove them wrong and win first place was phenomenal,” she said.
In January, Taylor ended up becoming a finalist in the Regeneron Science Talent Search, a national science competition geared toward pre-college students.
She is set to attend the University of Iowa in the fall and will major in political science. She hopes one day her color changing sutures will be available to everyone in need of them.