SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Surbhi Sarna felt a pain in her side and then remembers waking up in the hospital.
She was just 13 years old and the health scare has changed the course of her life.
“I was in the middle of writing this paper for my English class in my bedroom when I felt such a sharp pain in my side,” she told KPIX 5.
Sarna had a complex ovarian cyst and for the next six months lived in a state of anxiety while her doctors determined it wasn’t cancerous. While she was waiting, she and her mother debated removing her ovaries and potentially starting menopause for her as a teenager.
It’s a choice Sarna never wants another woman to have to make.
Sarna’s startup company nVsion Medical was just acquired by Boston Scientific for $275 million. Her team has developed non-invasive technology that could detect precancerous or cancerous cells in a woman’s Fallopian Tubes.
It’s similar to a pap smear — using a catheter, a small balloon is deployed into a woman’s Fallopian Tubes to collect cells for testing.
“We believe it may be possible to find cancer at early stages through screening women or to diagnose endometriosis which right now you can only diagnose through an invasive surgery,” she told KPIX 5.
Hundreds of thousands of women have their ovaries removed every year because of complex cysts. Sarna’s investors think her company’s technology is a life changing concept — one that male investors were too uncomfortable to listen to.
“One of the funny things I learned is the word vagina can sometimes have an interesting effect on people, maybe they lean in a little bit more maybe they lean out a little bit more,” she said.
Her first three investors were women after dozens of male venture capitalists rejected her pitch. Her technology has been approved by the FDA and with it being acquired will now enter into a large round of patient testing.
When asked the key for her success, Sarna said: “Stay really focused on your goal do whatever it takes to get to your goal.”