CEO's Note: Dreaming It in Charm City

The field of blood study and blood-related product development is a small one, and the field of autotransfusion (blood recycling) is even smaller. It often seems like everyone knows everyone else. We've had a lot of great mentors in the blood space from afar, but it hasn't been until we tapped into the inner workings of the Baltimore/DC area that we realized quite how small.

Just six weeks ago, we moved to the Charm City for the DreamIt Health Accelerator program from our medical device manufacturing home in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We were looking for other resources and mentors in both the blood transfusion and global health community to take our company to the next level, and we've found them.

The DreamIt Health office is in the Power Plant Live building, just to the left of this photo. Not a bad view of the harbor, eh?

The DreamIt Health office is in the Power Plant Live building, just to the left of this photo. Not a bad view of the harbor, eh?

One of our new, wonderful mentors in Baltimore, Iris Sherman, runs a company called Kitchology, but her past is in autotransfusion. She invented an autotransfusion device used on Ronald Reagan after the 1981 assassination attempt. His punctured lung and subsequent internal bleeding was salvaged, filtered, and re-transfused promptly; saving the president’s life. We met Dr. Paul Ness and Dr. Steven Frank who have had their work on autotransfusion talked about in the New York times and in the Washington Post, about how autotransfusion is actually safer and better for the patient than using donor blood. Their commentary on autologous blood transfusion in the United States elicits thoughts of how a device such as the Hemafuse could be used in the US, not just developing countries, to save on health outcomes and costs. And the list of influencers continues: Keytech, World Vision, Catholic Relief Services, Jpheigo, Fyodor Biotechnologies are just a few of the organizations that we continue to engage.

These conversations have challenged us to think bigger, sooner. We are thinking how we can strategically get to our long-term vision as soon as possible. We aim to be a medical device company for the developing world: we seek a MNC-like strategy with a developing world focus, instead of and Ideo-like strategy with their focus solely on design. We aim to change the way medical device is designed: 80% of the world’s medical technology should not be designed for only the 10% of the developed world. Simple, elegant, medical device design and implementation can revolutionize healthcare across the globe. A number of organizations designing phenomenal technology including non-profits and universities. The problem is commercializing and scaling this technology. We will continue to develop Hemafuse; however, we are thinking strategically of how we can use the momentum we've already gained to commercialize not only our own devices, but those from other sources as well.

Carolyn Yarina is Sisu Global Health's CEO. You can learn more about her here or drop her a line at info@sisuglobalhealth.com