The Key to Innovation | Constructing Inclusive Teams & Engagements

Rank & File Magazine | by Amanda R. Martinez

2020-05-22

In 2003 innovation saved Sharon Vosmek’s life. After months of suddenly fainting, and multiple incorrect diagnoses of emotional or other physiological problems, a technician at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center (UCSF) finally diagnosed her correctly.

Sharon learned her aortic valve needed replacing for her heart to continue to function properly. Since most of the present valve replacement solutions were designed for older men, there weren’t many options for a woman in her early 30s like Sharon. Fortunately, colleagues put Sharon in touch with a company called Cryolife, which was developing innovative solutions for harvesting and replacing heart valves. Their innovations led to Sharon receiving a new heart valve without any complications. Her symptoms subsided, and she has been able to recover her quality of life completely.

When you ask Sharon about this experience, there’s not a step in her medical journey where she doesn’t see innovation at work: The ability to have open dialogue between technicians and cardiologists at UCSF led to a successful diagnosis; the Cryolife team’s innovations in medical technology – including considerations of women’s unique needs – led to a successful heart repair; and even now, current and forthcoming new innovations will improve the way Sharon and other women receive their next valve replacement in the coming years.

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