Warsaw Entrepreneur Expands Mission to Make Kid-Size Implants

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WishBone anticipates about two-thirds of its business will initially involve licensing adult devices and redesigning them for children. WishBone anticipates about two-thirds of its business will initially involve licensing adult devices and redesigning them for children.

Children with orthopedic conditions such as in-toeing (“pigeon toes”), those suffering a trauma like a car accident and kids with Cerebral Palsy are being ignored, says an orthopedic leader in Warsaw. Entrepreneur Nick Deeter says orthopedic surgeons are forced “to sort of MacGyver their way through these surgeries and piece kids back together” by cutting or bending adult implants to their smaller frames. Children get an altered adult implant about 95 percent of the time, says Deeter, but he plans to “revolutionize” the industry by catering to kids with his newest company, WishBone Medical.

The Warsaw-based startup isn’t Deeter’s first foray in pediatric orthopedics; he founded Warsaw-based OrthoPediatrics Corp.—also focused on making implants for children—about a decade ago. Now considered an industry leader in pediatric orthopedics, the company is preparing for an initial public offering.

“[OrthoPediatrics] only has about 5 percent of the market, so I thought, as well as it’s doing, still 95 percent of all the implants going into children are not appropriate for them; they’re small adult devices that get…jammed into kids and hope they work, and that’s just the wrong way to do medicine,” says Deeter, who is chief executive officer of WishBone Medical. “I figured there’s a lot of room in the marketplace to have another company that’s focused on pediatric orthopedics, and that’s when I put WishBone together.”

Deeter left OrthoPediatrics several years ago, then invested in and became chief executive officer of Warsaw-based Nextremity Solutions and now plans to take another bite out of the market. He notes pediatric orthopedics is largely ignored because it’s relatively small—about a $1.4 billion global market compared to the mammoth $40 billion adult orthopedic industry.

“[The big orthopedic companies] really can’t take their eye off the ball of the adult hip, knee and spine marketplace,” says Deeter. “They wait for a company like ours to grow up into something substantial, and then they just acquire it; that’s the way these big companies grow, mostly through acquisition of niche companies like WishBone.”

That will likely be WishBone’s destiny after Deeter executes his plan to transform the pediatric orthopedic industry by not only providing pint-sized implants, but manufacturing them in a unique way. WishBone says, traditionally, implants are sold in cases that contain devices in multiple sizes and the needed surgical instruments. When an implant is used, that size is re-ordered to replace it, and the instruments are sterilized to be used again—all a costly process, says Deeter.

“What’s going to differentiate [WishBone] the most is the way we will package our products,” says Deeter. “We’ll have all of our products in sterile-packed, single use, disposable kits. It will contain the implant itself, the instruments needed to put it in and screws or whatever else is necessary to do that surgery all in the sterile-packaged kit.”

WishBone anticipates about two-thirds of its business will initially involve licensing adult devices and redesigning them for children, with proprietary designs comprising the remainder of its portfolio.

“We’ll be faster than most [startups], because of the way we’re licensing technology into the company, so we’ll be selling product yet this year,” says Deeter. “That’s unusual for a medical device company to have product revenue in its first year, but we actually will.”

Deeter believes WishBone’s team, comprised of industry veterans, will also set the company apart. He says Zimmer’s acquisition of Biomet in 2015 resulted in “a lot of talent floating around that we never would’ve attracted to the company.” Most recently, WishBone also added former U.S. Congressman Marlin Stutzman to its roster as president; the startup expects his relationships in Washington, D.C. and knowledge about regulated environments to be valuable assets.

“I’ve always had the heart of an entrepreneur,” says Stutzman, “so a challenge like this is exciting. I’m excited to be part of the [Warsaw] orthopedic space, which is admired around the country and the world. It’s an opportunity to be part of a great business community and focus on the greater cause of helping children.”

Deeter says WishBone’s name is indicative of its mission—creating anatomically-appropriate implants to help children with orthopedic deformities, trauma or injuries get their wish to feel like carefree kids again. 

Deeter says, rather than selling multiple implants in large cases, WishBone’s individually-packaged kits will allow smaller regional hospitals to perform more orthopedic surgeries.
Deeter says WishBone is also pursuing preventative body armor for kids using a material originally developed for the Department of Defense that hardens on impact.
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