Low-Cost Blood Pump Helps Save Lives when Means for Blood Transfusion are Not Available

In developed countries, patients in an emergency who need blood typically have ready access to it at any given time. However, the same cannot be said of underdeveloped and underserved regions such as Africa, where the number of deaths resulting from blood loss is alarming. What aggravates the situation is that even if blood is available, contamination is a veritable threat.

However, the scenario could soon change with the development of autotransfusion, a process through which a patient’s blood can be circulated back into his or her body. Sisu Global Health, the company behind the product called Hemafuse, wanted to help hospitals by empowering them to address issues related to blood contamination and resultant infections. This process also helps conserve blood, reducing the dependence on donated blood where it isn’t even easily available in the first place.

Blood transfusion machinery can be expensive, making its access limited to hospitals in wealthier countries. Sisu’s CEO Carolyn Yarina says that it’s not as though hospitals in Africa do not have money – they don’t have access to the right technologies. And in cases where such technologies cost thousands of dollars, medical care centers in underserved regions hesitate from investing in them.

The device developed by Sisu is essentially a manually-operated pump, using which blood can be sucked from an abdominal injury or the chest. On pushing down again, the blood flows through a unidirectional valve into a blood bag, where it can be stored for later use. The contraption also comprises a filter that prevents particulate contaminants or clots from passing through.

This innovative product also won Yarina a prize for the best social impact product at the recent SXSW Eco Awards. The young entrepreneur hopes to raise about US$700,000 in a round of seed funding in February 2016.


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