Dr. Tarek Loubani
Invention is not exactly the same as engineering, but both require problem solving and innovation.
Public Invention is proud to assist Glia, a Canadian firm, in its “Stop the Bleed” project making an open-source tourniquet for the terrible conflict in Ukraine. Not being a first responder, I only recently learned how important these devices are, especially in war time. Glia is manufacturing tourniquets, and you can buy one from them right now (Glia’s facility holds a Health Canada Medical Device Establishment License (MDEL)). But Glia is doing much more. They have published an open-source design for their tourniquet, which means anyone can in principle make one with a 3D printer and the ability to sew.
Although being able to make a single device is valuable in the kind of emergencies like wars and hurricanes that break supply chains, the reality is that for this kind of device, the manufacturing process known as injection molding makes more sense and can produce a higher-quality product. Injection molding has a high startup-cost to make a mold, but once you have one, you can use it to make massive numbers of plastic parts quickly and at low marginal cost.
Public Invention recently raised $37,000 via its tax-deductible 501c3 status for Glia to specifically pay for the development and making of an injection mold so that it can make large numbers of tourniquets quickly and relatively cheaply. The Glia injection mold is also fully open-source; Glia is in fact creating an ecosystem to build, test, and validate open source tourniquets. When we started in the spring, we recognized that peace might break out in the Ukraine-Russia conflict before this project could be completed. Sadly, blood is still shed daily in Ukraine; there will continue to be demand for tourniquets indefinitely. Even when that conflict is over, there will be a world-wide need for life-saving tourniquets.
Glia is not technically a US non-profit; it is therefore Public Invention’s responsibility to ensure that this money is used in a way compatible with the non-profit 501c3 status of Public Invention. In fulfillment of this obligation, Glia has produced a quarterly report which I invite you to review. Glia, like Public Invention, is fiercely open and transparent.
The Glia tourniquet was introduced on GitHub in 2017 as a result of extensive innovation and field research by trauma first responders in Gaza. It is a unique design that fits both adult and pediatric limb sizes, a requirement that not all commercial tourniquets meet. The use of Glia Gaza-made tourniquets, in addition to well organized emergency medicine training, was a critical success point mentioned in the WHO 2019 report on Great March of Return.
Public Invention supports this project because, although we did not invent the tourniquet, Glia is taking the step that completes our mission: actually delivering devices that may eventually save lives and developing open source medical devices. Similarly to Public Invention, Glia also keeps patient safety and clinical relevance at the forefront of their open source projects. Dr. Tarek Loubani, Glia’s Medical Director, observed tourniquet manufacturing decisions that Gaza overcame in 2018 being reinvented by decentralized manufactures for Ukraine in 2022. In response, he released a Medium article describing the Gaza field research (often on active trauma patients under live fire) that led to the Glia tourniquet design we have today.
I wish I could tell you for sure that these devices will definitely be used in Ukraine; but the purchase and deployment of devices is complicated. I’m happy to say that Public Invention board member Victoria Jaqua, who is the Medical Community Lead of Open Source Medical Supplies (OSMS), is the Project Manager for this initiative. I therefore have faith that working together, Public Invention, OSMS, and Glia are doing the best we can for the people of Ukraine, and, in the long term, the whole world.
This project is run by Glia, please contact Carrie Wakem if you wish to volunteer skills, though the project needs money.
As required by Public Invention, Glia has published a quarterly status and financial report.