There is a new world out there revolving around the phenomenon of 3D-Printing. People have printed everything from cars to new houses for the poor, shoes and art, and even new organs. This technology has already begun changing the world. Now, one of the world leaders in the realm of 3D printing, American-Israeli company Stratasys, has partnered with British company Brightwake (Advancis Medical) to produce a life-saving and religiously ethical blood collection machine.
HemoSep is a one-of-a-kind machine that recovers blood lost or spilled during major trauma and open-heart surgeries, recycling the blood and allowing for its quick transfusion back into the patient. Known as autotransfusion, this process reduces the need for donor blood in a surgery and eliminates any possible complications tied to transfusion reactions. For religious individuals in particular who refuse donor blood, HemoSep’s blood recycling technology could be a real life-saver.
“The Hemosep consists of a bag that uses chemical sponge technology and a mechanical agitator to concentrate blood sucked from a surgical site or drained from a heart-lung machine after surgery,” explained Brightwake’s Director of Research and Development, Steve Cotton to NoCamels. “The cells are then returned to the patient via blood transfusion. In a climate of blood shortage, this recycling methodology has the potential to be a game-changer in the medical industry, saving the National Health Service (NHS) millions.”
With the desire to get the HemoSep’s live-saving blood recycling technology on the market sooner, Brightwake turned to 3D printed prototype parts to save time and money. Dramatically shortening the production process of three weeks for outsourced products, Brightwake’s in-house use of the Stratasys 3D printer saved the company time and cut its prototyping costs by an astonishing 96 percent, saving about £1000 per piece.
According to Cotton, “3D printing has not only enabled us to cut our own costs, it has also been crucial in actually getting a functional device to clinical trials. The ability to 3D print parts that look, feel and perform like the final product, on-the-fly, is the future of medical device manufacturing.”
While the devices costs are low, the blood saving potential is high. However, with the technology still in the developmental stages, patients will still need to resort to receiving blood transfusions for the foreseeable future.
When asked about this new life and blood saving innovation, Jonathan Feldstein, Director of the Heart to Heart foundation, which supports Israel’s national blood bank, said; “While new, entrepreneurial and creative technology such as this are exciting and may have an impact in saving lives one day, the bottom line is that Israel’s blood supply comes entirely from donors in Israel and Jewish and Christian tourists, and the cost to protect and preserve Israel’s blood supply is great.”
“Heart to Heart is proud both to bring people visiting Israel to donate blood which benefits all Israelis and many of our neighbors and foreigners in Israel, and to generate financial resources to ensure Israel always has a safe and plentiful blood supply.”
Heart to Heart has run numerous successful blood drives of visiting groups of Christian and Jewish tourist in the past few months, while enabling those abroad to make a “virtual” blood donation by donating money to help facilitate blood transfusions in Israel.