Skip to main content
International Top 20

The Gutsy Port

A secure medical port that anticipates the next frontier in ostomy care. It improves the daily lives of ostomates by aiding continence, enabling bag-free moments, and bolstering bodily autonomy.

  • Hero shot of the Gutsy port s latest physical prototype on-model. The image features the sleek form.

  • Short video explaining key features of the project. Longer, more detailed video on project website.

    Short video explaining key features of the project. Longer, more detailed video on project website.

  • An aerial view of the final Gutsy port and its components, including ideation sketches and renders.

  • The market treats ostomy products as mere appendages, but Gutsy port is an extension of the self.

  • An example user flow for attaching, emptying, cleaning, and getting dressed with the Gutsy port.

  • The current reality of the ostomy bag on the left juxtaposed with the Gutsy future on the right.

What it does

A prosthetic-like lid-and-hatch system meant to disrupt the pouch-dominated ostomy care market. Designed with ostomates and surgeons, the Gutsy port is custom-fitted to each stoma, acting as an artificial sphincter-of-sorts and offering reprieve from the bag.

Your inspiration

A dear friend received the life-saving surgery at just 26 years-old and has been living with an ostomy bag since. She urged me to engage with ostomates all over the world. Hearing first-hand sentiments like, “Life is different now, but that doesn’t mean it has to be worse, or less-than,” highlighted the need to treat ostomy products as an extension of the self, rather than as a mere appendage. The ostomy bag has been the standard of care for 70 years, moving from repurposed bread bags in 1950 to the disposable pouches of today. Why haven’t we ventured beyond the bag in our technologically advanced world? Why not go back to the drawing board?

How it works

First, the user places a reusable wafer around the stoma, which adheres to the skin using a hydrocolloid backing. The user attaches their port, locking it into place with a watertight snap-fit joint. The port has two parts, a lid and base, connected by an embedded hinge and lip-groove seal. The user can check on their stoma or empty waste as-needed by opening the ergonomic lid. An origami-inspired membrane folds compactly into the port when closed and unfurls when opened to streamline waste away from the body. This “slide” actually mimics the curvature of the intestine and functionally extends what was biologically lost. The port can easily be removed and washed for reuse. Modeled after precedents for integrated medical wearables, like diabetes ports and cochlear implants, it was critical that Gutsy be custom-fit to the user. Like a prosthetic, the port could be skin-colored for a more subtle, low-profile appearance, or colorful and bright to make a statement.

Design process

The discovery process was steeped in immersive observation, ethnographic research, and ephemera collection. I often engaged in the empathetic practice of “bodystorming,” or wearing the bag myself. During ideation, I prototyped over 65 ideas, ranging in fidelity from paper to 3D-printed resin. I was initially stuck in a “design swirl” and had to pivot. My thinking was confined by the parameters of the bag. For instance, “How could I get the bag to fit better? How could I make it leak-proof?” I reached out to the chief of colorectal surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian and we began a co-design partnership. I visited the hospital to share fresh ideas and curiosities about the viability of a surgical implant. While he ultimately steered me away from this route, the chief suggested I design my port as a non-surgical steppingstone for a future where an implant might be possible. I returned to iterative prototyping and actively engaged ostomates in feedback. The earliest ports were simple and mostly tested for size and form. The second iteration was slightly more robust to analyze user interaction. The third introduced the idea of an internal membrane that connected the lid/base and streamlined the emptying experience. This innovation underwent a series of efficacy tests, resulting in Gutsy.

How it is different

Current products are mostly single-use and disposable. Ostomates thus go through an excess of bags (and expenses). Gutsy takes a prosthetics approach instead, meaning the design supports reuse. Current pouches are also one-size-fits all and must be “cut-to-form,” often fitting poorly and leaking via gaps. Gutsy, however, is custom-fit to stoma size/belly contour. Optimizing fit reduces both painful leakages and time spent creating a strong “seal.” Users have little autonomy over when their stoma releases waste into the pouch and are hyper-aware of all smells/sounds. Gutsy controls the flow of waste for hours at a time, offering a break from the bag. Users were especially excited by the port for high-anxiety scenarios: i.e. going on a date without worrying about audible flatulence or attending a work meeting without needing to excuse oneself due to odor. Users often encounter stigma/insecurity, but Gutsy enables them to co-design the port with pride and dignity.

Future plans

One of Gutsy’s ostomate contributors shared the following, “I would love to see the Gutsy port come to life; it would really give me back my freedom of choice.” In applying to the James Dyson Award, I hope to make Gutsy a tangible reality. I have acquired a provisional patent and established a shared intent to continue collaborating with the chief of colorectal surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian. For next steps, I plan to apply for a design patent and embark on the formal approvals process. I am eager to engage in rigorous R&D and mechanical validation with the dream of getting Gutsy into the hands of the 14 million ostomates around the globe.


Gutsy was only recently completed as my thesis project in fulfillment of the requirements of a Master's of Industrial Design degree at the Pratt Institute; the concept has therefore not been submitted to any other awards or competitions as of yet. Stay tuned!

End of main content. Return to top of main content.

Select your location