A woman dies every 4 minutes somewhere in the world from complications associated with obstetric hemorrhage, in which a woman bleeds heavily, usually just after giving birth. Dr. Suellen Miller, Director of Safe Motherhood Programs at UCSF Bixby Center for Global and Reproductive Health and Policy, rightfully deemed this harrowing statistic unacceptable, and she created a solution that she calls Lifewrap. Lifewrap is a non-pneumatic, anti-shock garment (or NASG), first-aid device used to stabilize women who are suffering from obstetric hemorrhage and shock. It helps them survive delays in getting to a hospital to get the treatment they need to live.
The Lifewrap is made of neoprene and Velcro and looks like the lower half of a wet suit, cut into segments. The wrap stops heavy bleeding and keeps the body from going into shock. In one case of the successful use of the Lifewrap, a Nigerian mother had just given birth to her ninth child at home, and she had a blood pressure too low to record. The medical team rushed to bind her with the NSAG, and moments later the mother’s blood pressure was detectable, her veins were visible, and she started to regain consciousness.
To obtain the assistance of big donors like USAID and The Gates Foundation so Lifewrap may be distributed in poor countries, Dr. Miller and her group have had to conduct extensive research to demonstrate that it saves lives and has no ill side effects. So far, the NSAG has been tested and researched in Mexico, Nigeria, Egypt, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It has also been used in other countries including Ethiopia, Cambodia, Philippines, and the rural U.S. — and the number of countries using Lifewrap grows every day. reports Dr. Miller reports that in places where they use the NASG, maternal mortality from hemorrhage has decreased by half.
The Lifewrap sells for under $100, can be reused up to 50 times after cleaning and drying, and can be applied by anyone after a short, simple training session. “I hope all the women who need an NASG have access to it and that governments and NGOs and organizations will adopt it to save bleeding mothers,” offers Dr. Miller.