065: Big Tumors, Brain Surgeries, OssDsign AB, and Burst Biologics feat. Aaron Jennings

Aaron Jennings has been through quite the journey with his health and after another surgery 3 weeks ago, he remains strong and healthy and is enjoying time as a father and husband. His story is pretty unique as he’s been able to use some of the products his company makes in his latest surgery as well as be on the forefront of medical innovation by staying in touch with his industry connections. Listen to his amazing story and get inspired!

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In addition to being a patient, you work in the medical industry. What drove you to do that?

He met someone in his mid twenties that recruited him to be in medical device sales. He got his start in orthopedics and moved out to the West coast.

How has it been managing work, personal, and family life with everything going on?

Aaron’s wife is amazing and has managed the household well. He has a strong support group of colleagues and he’s been lucky to leverage his industry connections for him to work with top surgeons

What’s the story with your brain surgeries?

Back in 2012 he had symptoms of headaches and vomiting and found he had a benign tumor the size of a tennis ball in his head. He was lucky enough to have it removed the next day. The tumor grew back at a rapid pace so he had it removed again then had radiation therapy. He got MRSA with that surgery and they had to remove his bone flap so he had an unprotected area of his skull. Aaron was the first patients to have a vascularized plate put in his head so his tissue has a lower chance of rejecting the plate.

Tell us more about how you used your own company’s products in your own surgery?

He was able to use Burst Biologics product over the plate so growth factors could prevent scarring. His company donated tissue for him which was really generous.

What would you say or ask the people responsible for developing your medical device?

Aaron’s already met them. He got to meet them at a conference where they were exhibiting. He met the founder, the inventor, and is so proud to be the very first patient in the US to have this plate.

After going through the surgery, is there anything right now that you would say to them about the whole process?

Right now it’s too early but he’s excited that this is a 3D custom printed plate and they’ve done a great job with it so the shape of his head looks very nice now. It will probably take over a year for the plate to vascularize and he would love to get an ultrasound to see blood flow through the plate later on.

What’s something you didn’t expect through all of this?

He didn’t expect to be in so much communication with the company. He was talking with the head of distribution and many contacts in the company. He thinks this is a little bit because he was the first patient to have this done in the US as well as his industry connections.

Did you go through any rehab?

The hospital needs to make sure that you can function before you leave so you need to go through physical therapy and occupational therapy. They want to make sure that you can get around the house ok. Since this was Aaron’s 5th surgery, he was familiar with what he needed to do and after that, he just had to rest at home and be on an anti-seizure medication as standard procedure after a brain surgery.

Is your view on healthcare innovation different now that you’ve gone through this?

He comes from the spine industry where there isn’t as much innovation as other segments of medical products. He’s been blown away by the radiation machine and how advanced it was. He’s on the biologics side now and there’s so much innovation there.

Now that you’re on the patient side, what advice would you give someone just starting to develop a new product?

You have to be different. It’s harder to get market share if you have a me too type of product but if you come out with a product that’s similar but maybe could show better patient outcomes that might help. You’ve got to figure out who you’re targeting. There are premiums that people will pay for.

Host: Meghan Alonso
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Host Company: Imua Services
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About the Author

Meghan M. Alonso
Meghan M. Alonso, referred to by Shark Tank’s Kevin Harrington as a medical device development expert, is known for her award winning medical device podcast, Inspired by Imua, the chapter she wrote in best selling book “Put a Shark in Your Tank, and her valuable connections in the medical industry. According to the Huffington Post, she helps clients navigate the complicated process of bringing their ideas to the marketplace. She’s a patriotic military wife, pet parent, founder and co-founder of 4 successful companies who thrives on guiding medical device and IVD companies through development and manufacturing. When she isn’t helping others, Meghan is hard at work on her MBA she is pursuing from Auburn University, staying active with her adorable husky Abby, crossfitting, enjoying great restaurants and fine wine with her husband, and soaking up the sun the nearest beach.

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