acts 20 & 22 brings back one of our own. A true success story
acts 20 & 22 brings back one of our own!
…a true success story!
Alex is one of those stories that demonstrate how hard work and perseverance is the key to success no matter the circumstances; obviously intelligence and creativity are also necessary ingredients.
Ricardo Alexander Gómez is one of those Puertorricans who had left PR to the States for different reasons. In his case, his father lost his job and decided to move to Massachusetts in search of a new life and prosperity. Alex, as everybody calls him, left when he was eight years old and grew up in Massachusetts; he never came back until now.
His story is amazing! Alex studied at UMASS and went on to study medicine at Weill Cornell being the first Latino class President. But…life had different plans for Alex. .
To help pay for his future Medical studies, he worked in the operating room as a technologist passing the instruments to the surgeons. It was there where he made a big discovery that was going to change his life forever!! Alex discovered that the instrument used for Laparoscopic surgery became blurry every time they inserted it in the patient’s body. “The operating room is chilly and when you put a cold laparoscopic camera lens into a warm body, it fogs up. The surgeons then had to get the camera in and out of the patient’s body to dip the scope in a warm water bucket to defog it,” Alex explained.
He was surprised by this archaic method of defogging the instrument but he thought that it was because the hospital he used to work at was small and dated.
But later on, working at night as a Surgical Tech at the New York Presbyterian Hospital, (a state of the art facility) he discovered they were using the same archaic method of the bucket!
“That’s when I started developing the D-HELP– a fist-sized device. You insert the scope and a solution inside cleans and warms the lens. It’s disposable, battery operated and unlike the bucket, can sit right on the operating table,” Alex explained.
THE FIRST ANGEL
But, he was a medical student at Cornell University and had little money for the development of the product. Then came a guardian angel, Dr. Daniel McBride, who loaned him $90,000.
“I began creating working models of the device. I’d go down to the lobby of my dorm where the door man was intrigued as to why I was receiving so many weird components and boxes from China. I was trying to find the right solution that was safe and gentle and it was not until one night at 3 am that I discovered the right one, which we still use today!” stated Alex.
THE second angel
But then he needed some more funding for further development and that is when his second guardian angel came into the scene, even though she was always there very close…HIS MOTHER! “I struggled with that idea but I felt deep in my heart that I was not going to let her down.” So, his mother refinanced her house to help Alex with his project.
I recently met this wonderful angel because Belinda Castro is my new neighbour. Alex just bought his angel/mother a villa at Palmas and remodelled it completely for her.
THE rough road to success
But not everything was peaches and cream. When finally the product was developed, FDA approved and ready to sell, the hospital told the sales people they hired that they did not want to buy the product.. At that moment Alex decided that he himself was going to visit the hospitals and doctors. “I put on my backpack and went from hospital to hospital, talking to the doctors and administrators about all the benefits of using my device, including the safety of the patient and the time saved in the operating room. I gave away my product for them to try and that was the beginning of the end of the bucket. Once the doctors got to use the device they didn’t want to go back to the archaic method of the warm bucket.
The rest is history. Alex’s company was sold 10 years later for 115 million dollars. “At that time, the product was being used in nearly 1 million surgeries a year
Curiously, the company who bought Alex’s company was later bought by Metronics and closed operations in the USA to produce it in Ponce, Puerto Rico. Alex’s product ended up in his country and arrived prior to his return to the island.
THE return and future plans
Contrary to many Puerto Ricans that have left the island, Alex came back recently to benefit from the 20/22 law tax incentive program. “I left Puerto Rico and never came back, returning to Puerto Rico and leaving Florida was not even a possibility in my mind. But when I heard about this tax incentive I came to explore the possibility of moving to Puerto Rico and invest here. Yes!! Alex has several devices in the pipeline to produce in the East side of Puerto Rico. “ I hope I can create more than 150 employments in the area with this new project,” he said with enthusiasm and determination.
“I came to Puerto Rico to learn more about the law, visited Palmas del Mar and fell in love with the community. The problem was convincing my wife, Angie, who grew up in New York and who doesn’t speak Spanish, to move here. Live & Life in Palmas magazine helped me to show her that Palmas was an authentic community and not only a resort.
Now we are living here with my two little girls and one on the way; we feel very happy. My wife is adapting well and the eldest girl is learning Spanish very fast.
We wish them a happy life in our beloved Palmas del Mar and many more success stories to tell. We will keep you posted on his new invention. I can wait to see what’s next!!