An African-American Scientist, Tony Hansberry is probably the only 14-year-old boy credited with making a difference in gynecology. For Hansberry, attending a high school with a program geared towards medicine gave him the chance to intern at the nearby UF Health Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Florida.
Once there, he was challenged to improve how the vaginal cuff (the top of the vagina) is sutured after a hysterectomy. Typically, the cuff is sewn together with a horizontal stitch to decrease the risk of infection after surgery, but Hansberry suggested that a vertical stitch might be faster.
After reviewing several surgical closing procedures, including ones involving hysterectomies, the young genius came up with a simpler way to close the wounds. His ideas will help surgeons complete hysterectomies in 1/3 the time it previously took to complete an operation. It will also help newer surgeons with less operations under their belts.
When demonstrating his method on a mannequin, he was able to suture the area three times faster than the traditional method. It proved so much more effective that the supervising doctor still uses his method today, having nicknamed it the “Hansberry Stich.”
Now 21, Hansberry is studying chemistry at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. He hopes to become a surgeon someday, and make a difference in the lives of others.
“That’s what I love about the idea of medicine: the fact that you can change so many lives with just your hands” Tony Hansberry, Age 20