On 1 March 2021, television broadcaster BNNVARA will launched a programme We Gaan Het Maken! (‘We’re going to make it!’) on the NPO 1 channel. In this programme, researchers/creators help people with disabilities to find a solution that will change their lives. The programme is sponsored by the University of Twente.

Together with presenter Patrick Lodiers and armed with the latest techniques in their field, researchers Edwin Dertien, Wouter Eggink, Khiet Truong, Arjan van Hessen, Renee Molman, Astrid Poot and Hellen van Rees try to make the impossible possible. The programme provides a glimpse into the creative minds of people who dare to pioneer and are not afraid to tackle problems that others think are unsolvable. 

This case asks for understanding of the medical causes, research into different types of light and how to measure them, knowledge of materials, design and craftmanship.

Hellen was asked to try and help Wouter, he has a severe case of Lupus that causes, amongst other things, intense reactions to his skin whenever he goes out in daylight. Once he went just to help one of his kids, into his garden and the reaction was so severe, he had to undergo chemotherapy. As a result, he stays inside all the time. This has a huge effect, not only on himself but also on his wife and two children. He’s never been able to play outside with them, that is his biggest wish. In the second Episode of “We Gaan Het Maken” Hellen takes on the challenge, which brought with a serious responsibility as well, to find the exact cause of the reaction and to find something to tackle the problem. She also keeps in mind Wouter wants to be able to play, so he must be comfortable with it, and his environment as well. This case asked for combining research into the medical causes, research into different types of light and how to measure it, research into materials, design and craftmanship.

In the end, after ploughing through medical files, scientific documents, and with the help of many specialists, a selection of materials is found that blocks all the light. Hellen also tested the seams in different construction techniques of this material. Then, taking into account Wouter’s personal wishes on his appearance, covers were created to cover his entire head, upper body and hands. Two versions were created, a natural one, with a realistic skin tone, a high detail wig and his favorite pilot sunglasses, makes it possible for him to go outside safely. Another version that makes him look like a supporter of his favorite football club, Ajax, is used for playing a game with his two children. Wouters’ life has completely changed after revealing the covers, he still is very ill, has a lot of pain, and little energy, but he is not a prisoner in his own house anymore and can enjoy precious moments with his family outside.

Taking on this challenge was at times a heavy burden, a huge responsibility, but one of the most interesting and definitely rewarding experiences! It would not have been possible without the help of:

  • Prof.dr. Jurriaan Schmitz & Wilma Petersen, for allowing & helping me to work with the UV-Visible Spectrophotometer for the first series transmission measurements, a breakthrough in this project was achieved!
  • Arnoud Onnink PhD for the help and search for a suitable measuring method and making me a bit more wise in this field!
  • Prof. dr. Lis K. Nanver & Team, for the second measurements with highly sensitive photodiodes, that made the difference between being quite sure, to completely sure!
  • Loes Platenkamp & Natascha Fedder, for all the time and effort during your internships, searching for materials, knowledge and brainstorming about solutions!
  • Müfide Halaceli, for the help in selecting and perfecting the wig, it made a huge difference in the result, making Wouter look more human and approachable when wearing his mask!
  • The team at IDTV for the support in the process, looking though my endless vlogs and documentation and being able to edit it into a great story that reflects the process beautifully!
  • The team at the University of Twente for the opportunity and support, especially Hinke Mulder!
  • Wouter and his family for their openness, input, ideas and guts to take part in this project!

The episode aired on the 8th of March 21.25h NPO 1, and can be seen through the broadcaster’s website HERE.