Two companies from the UF Sid Martin Biotechnology Institute donated thousands of dollars of supplies to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico this month.
MLM Biologics Inc., which specializes in medical devices for skin conditions, was one of the two companies to donate for Hurricane Maria relief. The company donated skin replacement devices, which is a product stitched over an open wound to close it. New skin then grows over the patch and closes the wound, said Chandra Nataraj, founder and CEO of MLM.
Nataraj got in touch with MMM Healthcare LLC, a large health care provider in Puerto Rico, to ask what help they could provide.
“It’s just an absolute humanitarian need,” Nataraj said. “Somebody had to come in and actually make the decision that we are going to go help these people.”
Nataraj said the dollar amount of the supplies, which was about $75,000, was not something he wanted to focus on. Instead, he wanted to place more emphasis on how many patients the products could help.
“Our product was designed specifically to address wound care treatment options when the treatment facilities don’t operate under ideal conditions,” he said. “We knew that, from that perspective, it would be a timely help as well.”
The products were shipped from Miami to Puerto Rico on a plane chartered by MMM Healthcare on Oct. 1. Products from Trinity Pharmaco-Solutions LLC, a wound care company based out of Davie, and ReliOx Corp., a chemistry startup based out of the Sid Martin Biotechnology Institute in Alachua, also shipped items.
Cristina Knapp, a founder and vice president of marketing at ReliOx, said due to the sanitation issue and lack of clean water Puerto Rico is facing, many people are “exhibiting tremendous wound care distress.”
Doctors in Puerto Rico are traveling to rural areas where people do not have access to health care and using MLM’s skin replacement product on wounded patients, she said. Her company has shipped antimicrobial spray to help clean the wounds.
“Our products assure that there is a wound wash left behind to go with the dressing when they change the dressing covering,” Knapp said. “Our material, which is an antimicrobial spray, can be sprayed onto the wound and be assured that the wound is cleaned.”
Although it is a small company, Knapp said ReliOx wanted to help in any way they could.
“It’s an overwhelmingly impactful thing to see,” she said. “American citizens, 3.5 million people, in a desperate, apocalyptic situation, and it’s the least we could do.”