John puts his heart into saving others

AN inventor who underwent lifesaving heart surgery has come up with a way to help other patients – and to raise money for the hospital which treated him.

AN inventor who underwent lifesaving heart surgery has come up with a way to help other patients – and to raise money for the hospital which treated him.

Master locksmith, John Charnley, suffered a severe heart attack in May 2003 which left him seriously disabled and in need of lifesaving quadruple bypass surgery.

Now the 53-year-old is donating a share of the profits from his latest invention to the Cardiology Unit at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital.

The serial inventor, who runs his own locksmith business in Heaton, Newcastle, is working on his ‘Super Solenoid’ – a breakthrough technology which can be used to power medical devices such as pacemakers.

At present pacemaker batteries only last a maximum of 14 years but Mr Charnley said his device would last a lifetime as it would be much more power efficient.

The father-of-four said: “I’m extremely excited about the Super Solenoid as it could dramatically improve patient care. One of the things I’m looking at is using the device in pacemakers.

“At present batteries for the heart device don’t last must longer than a decade, meaning patients have to undergo another operation years after their pacemaker was fitted. Our invention would make it possible to power a pacemaker for a lifetime.”

Mr Charnley is currently working with RTC North’s NHS Innovations team to get his invention up and running.

He has also been talking to manufacturers of artificial limbs about using his device to allow nerve stimulated movement that can replace complex systems which require users to wear a harness and series of pulleys.

He added: “We have also been looking at building power systems into artificial legs. These will give the patients a solution which provides much more true to life movement and result in more freedom and a greater quality of life. At present, people using artificial limbs have to set their knee joint in the correct position when wanting to sit or walk. If we could get a solenoid built into a knee joint, the user will be able to bend and move their legs remotely.

“The improved solenoid has applications in heart assist devices, biomechanical devices such as artificial limbs, replacement hearts and portable ventilators and is set to make a significant contribution to patient health worldwide. All conventional solenoids have shortcomings, but this is a truly major breakthrough that will impact not only in established product designs but in completely new product designs.”

From initial income from his idea, he has already donated £1,500 to the Unit as a token of his appreciation for the expert care he received when in hospital.

“If it wasn’t for the staff at the Cardiology Unit in Newcastle I wouldn’t have survived and my idea would have been lost too,” he added.

“I remain indebted to them and have committed a percentage of any profits I make from ‘Super Solenoids’ to Cardiac Research at the Freeman.”

How it works

A SOLENOID is a device – consisting of a wire coil with a magnet inside – which converts energy into movement. By passing a current through the wire and turning it on and off you can turn on and off a magnetic field, which can be used to move the magnet. This in turn can be used to generate linear movement and make things move. The ‘Super Solenoid’ does this much more efficiently than traditional solenoids and generates more powerful and smoother movement.


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