By Mary Hearty
With Africa experiencing blood shortage due to high cost of collecting and storing it, the new device designed to salvage and recycle blood lost during internal bleeding is a ray of hope.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), out of the 70 countries collecting fewer than 10 donations per 1000 people, 38 are African.
The hemafuse device by Sisu Global Health Company is like a large syringe that doctors use to remove blood that has ruptured inside a patient after a traumatic injury. A filter in the syringe cleans the blood, removing any clots, and sends it to a blood unit bag, where it can be used to transfuse to the same patient.
During cases of emergencies and scheduled procedures, it can be used to recover blood from where it pools inside of a patient, into a blood bag, where it is immediately available to be re-transfused back to that same patient.
Also, the device can be used in cases where there is no donor blood available. Besides, it can be used as the preferred option over donor blood. This is because the use of donor blood sometimes comes with a higher risk of disease transfer, increased length of stay, readmission and other complications.
Dorothy Kesewah Denkyi, a theatre nurse at Tema General Hospital in Ghana, says, “Autotransfusion is the best because it is better than giving someone else’s blood to the patient. We are advocating to get more in the system. Every theatre should have one, if not one, two.”
Apart from Ghana, the hemafuse device is available in 10 different hospitals in Kenya. Among them is Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital which received a donation of Hemafuse from The First Lady, Margaret Kenyatta. This was after she endorsed it during the launch of the Nairobi Beyond Zero Medical Safari held in January,2020 to help reduce maternal deaths in the country.
During the event, Dr. Elizabeth Wala, Director of Health Systems Strengthening at Amref Health Africa in Kenya said, “Blood is a matter of life and death, the impact of this device is saving lives that could have been lost due to lack of blood.”
She added, “Achieving Universal Health Coverage requires innovations for essential medicines and technologies that save lives. Hemafuse should be part of the essential medical devices in each hospital.”
According to Dr. Gerald Osei-Owusu, a Medical Officer at Tema General, Hemafuse is a good device that need to be used nationally as well as continentally.
In Ghana, the use of the device has aided in saving lives in cases of ruptured ectopic pregnancy.
Dr. Gerald explains his experience after using hemafuse in several different surgeries. He says, “the device has cut down on cost, time it takes to save a patient’s as well as reducing the recovery time.
Although not all patients qualify for autotransfusion, recycling blood using the device will now help save donor blood for such patients.
Dr. Rafia Abanga, another Medical Officer at Tema General express her gratitude to the person who invented Hemafuse. “I am grateful to the person who invented this. I’ve used it only twice; it was much needed and helped save a young lady’s life.”
The governments in partnership with other organizations in Africa need to ensure the availability of the device in order to resolve blood access in hospitals.