When news outlets such as Fox News reported earlier this week about the South Carolina physician that was traveling to Liberia to battle the Ebola virus, his name sounded very familiar to many AU alumni.
Dr. Jeff Deal, a physician and inventor who has helped battle disease in impoverished nations around the world, was the logical choice for the Liberian government. Dr. Deal invented a robotic disinfection machine, called the TRU-D (Total-Room Ultraviolet Disinfector), which is manufactured by the Lumalier Corporation of Memphis, Tennessee. The device uses ultraviolet light to kill harmful bacteria in the hospital room setting. It is unique in that it kills (including the most resistant viruses) under objects, behind machinery and anywhere they might be within the room.
After an injury derailed his opportunity to play basketball at the University of Georgia in 1972, Dr. Deal enrolled at what was then known as Anderson College, which wasn’t too far from his home in Toccoa, Georgia, and which offered him a basketball scholarship. Dr. Deal told Anderson University Magazine the year before last that, “Anderson was what I needed, and I didn’t even know it. It would have been a disaster to go anywhere else.” He went on to earn degrees from Furman University and the Medical University of South Carolina. His son is a recent graduate of Anderson University as well.
Dr. Deal worked for 17 years as a board-certified otolaryngologist in private practice in Charleston. When the loss of much of the vision in one eye due to retinal disease kept him from performing microsurgery, he shifted his focus to other areas of interest, including mission work and the study of anthropology.
“It worked out for the best,” he says. Today, he serves as the director of health research for Water Missions International, a nonprofit, Christian engineering organization that serves the water and sanitation needs of people in developing countries and disaster areas. He and his wife, Hart, live in Charleston and have four children.
His invention, the TRU-D robot is used in patient isolation areas such as the operating room and intensive care unit. Using Sensor360™ technology, which calculates the time needed to react to room variables – including size, geometry, surface reflectivity and the amount and location of equipment in the room – TRU-D delivers a lethal dose of UV-C light during a single cycle from a central location. Before the device is enabled, all drawers in the room are opened, all doors are closed and safety signs are put outside the room to ensure no one enters. The robot is then activated remotely.
Dr. Deal is working with Liberian officials and the National Task Force on Ebola.