How did Google save your life
Doctors, couriers and blood donors are working together to save lives across Africa
An earlier version of this story was published in 2019. We have added a new documentary film showing how LifeBank is fighting the spread of the coronavirus in Nigeria.
Temie Giwa-Tubosun urgently needed access to card information in order to be able to solve the problem with the lack of blood in her home country, Nigeria. This is where Google came in: Organizing information and making it accessible to everyone is important to us - and it is precisely this kind of project that should be made possible. With the help of the Google Maps Platform, Temie was now able to develop a system that connects blood banks and hospitals. As a result, delivery times could be reduced from 24 hours to less than 45 minutes.
In January 2016 Temie officially launched LifeBank. At that time she was not a stranger, because she had already campaigned intensively for the topic of "Maternal and Child Health in Nigeria". With her app, she wanted to advance one goal above all else: blood products should get to the patients who urgently needed them as quickly as possible. The idea for this came up in 2014 when Temie was pregnant with her son. She was living in Lagos at the time, but her parents had emigrated to the United States. Because Temie wanted her mother with her when she was born, she traveled to see her.
Temie was hospitalized for an emergency caesarean section when she was 30 weeks pregnant. Fortunately, the doctors were able to deliver their son Enafie safely. "If I had had my son in Lagos, I might have died of postpartum bleeding," noted Temie.
The shelf life of donated bloodThe Red Cross, 2019
Nigeria has the fourth highest maternal mortality rate in the world, accounting for 19% of all maternal deaths. Postpartum bleeding - life-threatening blood loss after giving birth - is the most common cause of death. The lack of a donor blood supply infrastructure in Nigeria exacerbates this problem. "When I realized that, I knew: I have to do everything in my power," explains Temie. She returned to Lagos - determined to find a solution.
Donated blood can only be kept for six weeks. Often times they are tainted before they can be used because doctors simply don't know where to find the right blood type. Temie realized that there was a logistical problem here: "The doctors who need blood and the blood banks who have to throw away their blood primarily needed a direct way to communicate with each other." Temie used Google Maps Platform to network these previously separate groups. She mapped every facility in Lagos that regulates the distribution of blood - from hospitals to blood banks to courier drivers - and suddenly she had the solution.
In the past, hospitals - and sometimes even patient family members - had to call blood banks one by one to see if the blood type they needed was in stock. How quickly the individual blood banks responded to inquiries often made the difference between life and death. Overtaxed doctors and desperate relatives often simply did not know where to get suitable blood in time.
We are using Google Maps to create a communication platform for blood banks, hospitals and patients - something that has never been done before.
To solve this problem, Temie created and mapped an online blood bank in collaboration with 52 blood banks in Lagos. Doctors can now request a specific blood type and instantly track delivery on a card. Thanks to the LifeBank model, donated blood is usually used up within a week - almost no blood is wasted and supply and demand finally match.
Every two seconds
Somebody in the US needs blood.The Red Cross, 2019
Before LifeBank existed, it could take several hours, sometimes even days, to find and deliver a patient's blood in Lagos. With LifeBank, it takes just 45 minutes from the first inquiry to the delivery of the blood products. Temie says: "It wouldn't be possible without a technology like Google Maps."
As in many other countries, it is not easy to get people to donate blood in Nigeria. Without blood donations, there would of course be no blood reserves. Temie knew that LifeBank could only work if more people were willing to donate blood. Perhaps it helps a little that the appointments for blood donations are made quickly: Volunteers can conveniently make appointments via LifeBank - the nearest blood bank is shown on a map immediately. You can also find out exactly what to expect in the app.
1 blood donation
Half a liter of blood can save up to three lives.The Red Cross, 2019
I was also very sick once - I almost died then. So I can understand what it feels like to receive blood from someone. Blood donors are selflessly committed to other people's lives.
Oluwaseun Adeolu LifeBank blood donor
LifeBank has networked donors with key resources and has now registered over 5,000 blood donors. When asked how she managed to mobilize so many volunteers, Temie said, "The answer to that is likely to surprise you. Most just don't have the heart to say 'no' - especially when you tell them what's up is at stake. "
To date, LifeBank has drawn more than 22,000 cans of blood and delivered to over 400 hospitals, saving more than 8,000 lives.
Update:Temie and her team continue to provide medical supplies to people in need. They are currently on the front lines fighting the spread of the coronavirus in Nigeria. LifeBank is currently providing free oxygen to hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients. Together with local organizations, the team has also set up drive-thru / walk-in centers in Lagos and Ibadan where you can be tested for COVID-19. The whole of Africa can orient itself to this model for centralized COVID-19 tests. LifeBank is also working on a national database of critical medical equipment to source and repair ventilators and intensive care beds for local hospitals. See LifeBank.ng for more information.
Where can I donate blood?
Up to three lives can be saved with just one donation. Find out where in your community it is safe to donate blood.
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