Sisu Global Health Wins $250K Grant, Launches Indiegogo Campaign

Sisu Global Health, a Grand Rapids, MI-based medtech startup focused on making products for the developing world, launched an Indiegogo campaign last week to fund a training workshop in Zimbabwe that will teach doctors how to use its Hemafuse product. The company hopes to raise $45,000 by Jan. 16. So far, 20 donors have ponied up $2,260.

The Hemafuse is a patent-pending, autologous blood transfusion device that looks like a large syringe and is used to collect and re-transfuse a patient’s blood during an internal hemorrhage. In Sub-Saharan Africa, where electricity and supplies for blood transfusions are often scarce, internal bleeding is customarily treated with the “kitchen soup ladle method,” which involves salvaging a patient’s blood by using a soup ladle and then spooning the blood through gauze before putting it back in the patient’s body.

The Hemafuse, Sisu says, is safer, faster, and requires fewer medical professionals to operate successfully. Partly because of a favorable regulatory climate, Zimbabwe is the second market Sisu hopes to tackle; a pilot is also currently under way in Ghana, where Sisu has a second office.

Katie Kirsch, Sisu’s chief marketing officer, says the company was contacted by a medical school resident at the University of Pittsburgh who is also a native of Zimbabwe. Hospitals in his home country were interested in testing the Hemafuse, he told Sisu, and he helped arrange for the company to hold training sessions to get its device in the hands of doctors there. The Indiegogo campaign will help cover the costs of travel and training Zimbabwean doctors.

Sisu also won a $250,000 grant earlier this month as part of Saving Lives at Birth, a global competition for technologies that impact infant and maternal health. (Internal bleeding resulting from complications during pregnancy and birth is a major problem in countries with low resources.) The competition is supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Grand Challenges Canada, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the UK’s Department for International Development. Sisu has worked with hospitals in Ghana for the past four years to develop the Hemafuse, and the grant money will go toward expanding operations there, Kirsch says.

“We plan to be in Zimbabwe by February and have a bigger presence in countries where the Hemafuse is already used, like Ghana,” Kirsch says, adding that Sisu is also considering holding clinical trials in Zimbabwe.

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