Önundur Jónasson, a recent mechanical engineering graduate from the Engineering College of Aarhus, Denmark, has been granted an award from the Danish Engineering Service along with his Danish co-student Jesper Loenne, for a new cardiac valve.
The cardiac valve, which strengthens heart tissue that has been damaged after embolism, was Jónasson’s and Loenne’s final project and was undertaken in cooperation with the Skejby hospital—one of the largest hospitals in Europe, Morgunbladid reports.
“When people get embolism, a part of the heart muscle often dies and requires repairing. Previously, the treatment involved implanting pig cardiac valves in the heart; later the pigs were spared and iron valves used instead,” Jónasson said.
“The latest technology is to use rings to strengthen the heart tissue. They have not been effective enough because the material they’re made of, nitinol, tends to break. The project involved designing such rings with a different material, polypropylene, which is plastic,” Jónasson added.
“We had two prototypes made of the ring, which look promising,” Jónasson said. When asked why he chose a project related to medicine when he had studied mechanical engineering, he replied, “Many people are surprised about that, but the body is also a machine.”
The patent license for the ring belongs to Skejby hospital.
Before studying mechanical engineering, Jónasson studied plumbing and earned a secondary education degree in technology.
Next winter he will begin studying for a Masters degree in energy science at Reyst, which is a collaboration between Reykjavík Energy, the University of Iceland and Reykjavík University.
“It had simply become too expensive to be a student on Icelandic student loans and providing for three children in Denmark,” Jónsson explained. “But I’m also interested in energy and Iceland has a special position in that field.”