Scholarship helps cancer survivor develop medical innovations to ease the pain

Voyager Point local and cancer survivor Nikhil Autar has become a step closer in realising his dream of launching his healthcare solutions following his successful application for a Redkite and Coles Dare to Dream Scholarship.

The 25-year-old was one of 24 young adults around the country to receive a $2000 scholarship which Nikhil will put into his start-up business, Get to Sleep Easy, which is in the midst of engineering a smart inclining bed and a robotic walking frame that he says will revolutionise at-home care.

Nikhil, who was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia at 17-years-old, started Get to Sleep Easy in response to his own experience while hospitalised with cancer and tragically losing friends he met during that time to preventable illnesses.

“Having studied medicine myself, I couldn’t help but think, ‘Why isn’t there something out there that can reduce the number of accidents in hospitals and stop these unnecessary deaths from happening’, and so – I decided to do something about it,” Nikhil said.

Nikhil and his team of engineers have designed several medical innovations but their most notable of all is the ‘Smart Inclining Bed’ which uses sensors to detect common complications that come with age and illness such as falls, vein clots, pressure sores and pneumonias.

“We’ve created this device which can convert any bed into a hospital bed for a tenth of the price. I wanted to develop something that helps not only the elderly or sick, but also the nurses and caretakers who don’t have the time and resources to constantly watch over their loved ones,” he said.

The Smart Inclining Bed, while still a prototype, has been a work in progress for Nikhil in his down-time away from studying medical science.

“When I was a kid I loved Hawkeye from MASH, and from then on I’ve always wanted to study medicine. However, my cancer and the side effects of it since being in remission have held me back from completing the clinical rotation portion of my degree due to my immune system,” he said.

“I’ve realised that even though cancer may have taken away my ability to practice medicine for the moment, I can still bring light to people’s lives through my passion for innovation, and this scholarship will allow me to commit to that.

“Every dollar goes a long way, and so we are going to use this grant to continue our prototype rollout and develop a well-thought marketing plan to get our products directly out to our consumers.”

Now in its sixth year, the Redkite and Coles Dare to Dream Scholarship program encourages teens and young adults to pursue their education, career or life dreams that have been sidelined because of undergoing cancer treatment.

In total, 36 young Australians aged 15 to 24 years old who are being treated for cancer or are living with its impact have received a financial contribution of up to $5,000 this year to pursue their dreams from the initiative funded by Coles.

Coles CEO Steven Cain said Coles was proud of its long-standing partnership with Redkite and pleased to continue its support of the scholarship program which gave young people an opportunity to follow their dreams.

“We’re delighted to help support inspiring young people like Nikhil in cities and towns across the country and give them an opportunity to take more control of their future and achieve their goals,” Mr Cain said.

Redkite CEO Monique Keighery said the Redkite and Coles Dare to Dream Scholarships can change young lives.

“Each year we are inspired by the calibre and strength of the applications we receive. We have seen many young people apply for our scholarships, which demonstrates there is a real need for young cancer patients and survivors to receive career and study support during and after cancer treatment,” Ms Keighery said.

“Young people tell us that a scholarship is a real vote of confidence in their plans for the future, and we are proud to be able to help them build their best possible education and career pathways.

“Thanks to Coles team members and customers, we have been able to continue this important program for the sixth year. We simply wouldn’t be able to do this without their generosity and support.”

In addition to the scholarships, Redkite has provided individual support to more than 330 teenagers and young adults in 2018 through its Education and Career Support service which is also supported by Coles.

Coles’ generous team members and customers have raised more than $32 million for Redkite since the partnership began in 2013.