Design Innovations for Infants and Mothers Everywhere (DIIME)

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 2011 - $20,000

A major challenge to improving maternal healthcare worldwide is the lack of blood available for transfusions during open abdominal surgeries, especially in cases of ruptured ectopic pregnancy. However, 80% of patients in sub-Saharan Africa do not receive a transfusion without providing a replacement donor, generally a close family member. If the patient doesn’t have access to the necessary blood because a family member is unavailable or unwilling to donate, her prognosis may worsen, eventually leading to death.

To address this problem, physicians in resouce-limited settings have developed a procedure for salvaging the patient’s own blood lost in internal hemorrhaging. In this widely used procedure, called “soup ladle autotransfusion,” the patient’s blood is physically scooped out of the abdomen with a ladle and poured through a nurse’s hands into a bowl, where it is mixed with anticoagulant, filtered through a few layers of gauze, and transferred to a blood bag. The blood bag is then hung on an IV stand and the blood is transfused back into the patient. While the end goal of giving the patient a transfusion is achieved, the procedure is labor-intensive and there’s a high chance of complications resulting from contamination.

This team has developed a novel blood transfusion device that allows a clinician to extract blood from the woman’s abdomen, quickly filter the blood of any clots or impurities, and safely transfuse it back into the patient’s body via a standard blood bag. The device, estimated to cost approximately $300, was developed in collaboration with healthcare professionals in Ghana.