Omaha doctor creates safer stove for third-world countries

By  | 

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- An Omaha doctor is hoping to make her mark on the world by fixing a problem that affects millions outside of our country.

It's something basic to so many of our homes: gas turns on and blue flames flicker, for most Americans firing up the stove is simple but for billions of people, cooking is far more dangerous.

Dr. Coleen Stice is a plastic surgeon in Omaha. For decades she's traveled with medical teams to third-world countries.

"I see burns. Acute burns,” Stice told WOWT 6 News.

Stice treats many injuries caused from three stone fires; these fires kill an estimated four million people a year.

"I'm interested in fixing burns of course, I'm happy to show the surgeons there in Kenya how to do that. But I'd rather not have to do that. I'd rather prevent the burns if possible,” said Stice.

Dr. Stice set out to design a safer option. She worked with a team at the University of Nairobi -- and another Omaha doctor, Raymond Schulte. Together they developed the Salama Stove.

"This stove accomplishes all of the things that we want it to,” she said.

The outside is completely safe. The hottest part of the cooking device stays out of child's reach and smoke is funneled through a chimney which prevents chronic smoke inhalation. For three years, Dr. Stice and her team in Kenya have been distributing dozens of the stoves to villagers.

"It was almost a celebration. All their neighbors came in and their neighbors even have a great deal of pride in the fact that they've got something that is safe and convenient and efficient to use," said Stice.

Metro Community College is now helping the effort.

"We had the equipment and the talent to be able to build something really nice so that Colleen Stice would be able to take that one around to raise money,” said MCC Professor Chris Beatty.

Beatty’s welding class students made a stove, but Dr. Stice says millions more need safer ways to feed their families. She's taking the prototype on the road and she's currently footing the bill. Her ultimate goal is for the design to get picked up by a global organization to mass produce and give families a side of peace with their meals

Dr. Stice says she is encouraged by how giving the Omaha community has been and she is hopeful people will donate to her cause so that her team can build more stoves.