Dr. Brezinski envisioned the concept of a lightweight, low-cost, off-grid phototherapy device to treat neonatal jaundice several years ago. The commercially available phototherapy devices she was using to take care of her patients in the United States were expensive and bulky, and they required line power. She imagined that in developing areas of the world, newborns would succumb to jaundice simply because they did not have access to this basic neonatal treatment, a situation unimaginable in developed countries.
A phototherapy device that could be used "wherever there is a baby in need" required a design approach sensitive for that context. Heavy, rigid devices that required reliable line power were not appropriate for the poor, rural regions where the mortality from jaundice is highest. The ideal phototherapy device needed to be lightweight and collapsible, so it could be easily transported. The main manufacturing process should be something simple, like sewing. Using commercially available materials and low-energy consuming LED lights could keep costs low and allow battery operation. Arranging the light array in a radial pattern on a reflective surface would amplify light delivery and increase skin exposure.