SEATTLE — Sisu Global Health won the First Mile Innovation Challenge and $25,000 for the creation of the Hemafuse. The company’s handheld blood recycling device pumps blood from an internal hemorrhage into a blood bag, allowing it to be reused. The process, known as autotransfusion, reduces the dependence on donor blood.
According to Sisu Global Health, “healthcare systems in emerging markets struggle because 80 percent of medical technology is designed for 10 percent of the world’s population.” The medical device company designs beneficial technology for countries that face difficulties accessing effective medical treatments. Many of their efforts have been concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa which has a $4 billion medical device market.
The Hemafuse allows autotransfusions enabling a person to receive their own blood during surgery instead of relying on blood from a separate donor. Transfusions allow patients to either store personal “pre-donated” blood before an operation or their blood can be collected during and after surgery using an intraoperative blood recycling device.
During an emergency situation, the Hemafuse would be used to replace or supplement donor blood during surgery. The mechanical device has one-time use, disposable filters and can be used up to 50 times during a medical procedure. Hemafuse can be used in the majority of hemothorax and hemoperitoneum emergency situations.
Hemothorax occurs when blood fills the pleural space, which is between the lungs and chest cavity. The most common causes are blunt force or penetrating trauma. Similar to Hemothorax, Hemoperitoneum occurs when blood accumulates in the peritoneal cavity, filling the space between the abdominal wall and abdominal organs.
How the Hemafuse works:
1. The handle is pulled up and blood is drawn into a filter.
2. Blood clots and impurities are removed through the specialized filter.
3. When the device is filled, the handle is pushed down and the filtered blood flows through tubing into a blood bag.
4. The blood bag connects to the patient for a gravity-fed (moving liquid without a pump) transfusion.
According to Venture Capital for Africa (VC4A), “there is a shortage of over half the blood needed in Africa and 25 percent of maternal deaths can be attributed to lack of blood.” More than 20 million medical cases in Africa could benefit from the Hemafuse each year.
Currently, Sisu plans to travel to Zimbabwe for a scheduled clinical pilot of the blood recycling device, sponsored by the Saving Lives at Birth Consortium. The Hemafuse will be used to collect, filter and reuse blood during reputed ectopic pregnancy surgeries, which is the leading cause of “maternal mortality in the first trimester.” The company also plans to secure regulatory approval for the sale of Hemafuses in Ghana.
– Madison O’Connell