If there’s something that sticks in our minds daily, it’s how little the medical community seems to know about the areas in which we work. Sisu is preparing for its first clinical pilot with its portfolio device, Hemafuse, later this year in Zimbabwe. All of our preparations through ISO standards and training regulations have led us to this momentous milestone - putting our intervention into human use.
This device is surgical - meaning that it can intervene during a pivotal moment in an individual’s care. Compared to most moments when autologous blood transfusion occurs, the Hemafuse, as an intervention, will be both more urgent and more evident in terms of results. Its handheld, sleek design reduces both blood flow issues and failure modes from a slippery, gloved hand mid-surgery. In many of the surgical suites that we’ve been in, space is at a premium. Improvements on hospitals and buildings are not keeping up with the increase in patient admittance and population growth, meaning smaller rooms for more people.
This device, as one Tanzanian doctor put it, will eliminate a ‘messy’ and sometimes futile process.
All opinions from these doctors point to the success of this device, however, the glaring fact that autotransfusion, the recycling of a person’s own blood, has been debated solely in Western countries. Of all the published material concerning African healthcare, only 1-2% have contributions from the continent’s own physicians. Additionally, these articles and the repository services that attempt to collect thousands of articles are often not internationally indexed to include African medical papers. They come from a continent that has been performing autotransfusion for years, but whose voices have not been given the mechanism to be heard in the medical community.
Doctors, clinicians, and innovators in these countries need to be heard. Many discussions at US-based and European-based forums expound large statistics or frameworks for short-term humanitarian relief. These are quickly shot through with expert comments - this is not single war or disaster, it’s a daily reality in many places. Concrete plans are sputtered out, but sound naïve. We know so little.
Working with our doctors in Zimbabwe and Ghana, our team is humbled by how much there is to learn. Their input is taken with utmost seriousness and integrated in everything we do. Our goal with this clinical pilot is not only initial results on the device’s performance, but to work with the University of Zimbabwe and National Blood Service in Harare to further a graduate student’s education and enable more publications about the issues of blood access. These are learned professionals with distinct sets of expertise that need to have their research heard across the medical community.