How long does it take to count down from 77,000?
Well, in the 18 months since we got this global pulse oximetry gap in our sights and set out to Make It 0, we’ve knocked more than 3000 off the target! Thanks to the generosity of Lifebox donors and the dedication of our colleagues worldwide, the number of operating rooms without access to a single pulse oximeter is getting smaller day by day.
But each oximeter we send out is more than just a number crossed off a target. Every box has a story behind it – someone’s sweat, heart and dedication sent that essential equipment on its way, often thousands of miles by air and bumpy road, to the door of a hospital, into the hands of an anaesthesia provider who will use it to safeguard hundreds of lives – and help ensure that many more surgical patients live to tell their own stories.
Let’s take a look at the sweat, heart and dedication that went in to one of the largest individual donations Lifebox has received yet – 88 pulse oximeters from the Department of Anaesthesia and Perioperative Medicine at The Alfred hospital in Melbourne, Australia!
Do you follow us on Twitter (@safersurgery)? If you do you’ll have noticed, like us, a persistent hashtag that appeared a few months ago. #target80. Thousands of miles away a countdown – or a count up? – had begun…
“As anaesthetists we possess a unique skill set which, given the right circumstances, we can use to aid those less fortunate,” explained consultant anaesthetist Dr Jamie Smart, one of the driving forces behind the department’s fundraising success. “For the majority of us such opportunities seldom arise due to the conflicting time demands of work, family, and other life events. Through the Lifebox Foundation, members of our department have been able to contribute in a small, but significant way, to providing safer surgery in areas of need.”
“Lifebox first came to our attention at Anesthesiology 2011 in Chicago last October, during Atul Gawande’s inspiring plenary lecture. However it was over a steak and a few glasses of excellent Argentinean Malbec at this year’s World Congress of Anaesthesiologists (WCA), that the seeds of our campaign were first sown.
Our strategy was simple. We would simply ask each member of our department to donate $250 for one pulse oximeter, or any amount they could afford.
From the moment the first email was sent alerting department members to our campaign, the response was overwhelming. Donations poured in from specialists, trainees, nursing staff and even some of our surgical colleagues.
By the end of May, with little work but a lot of generosity, we exceeded our target. A total of $22,130 was raised – enough to fund 88 Lifebox pulse oximeters, enabling the provision of safer surgery on a daily basis.
I encourage all anaesthetic departments to follow our lead and to try to match our efforts. For just $250 a Lifebox oximeter can be delivered to an area of need and put to immediate use. There are many ways to spend $250, but very few that are more worthwhile.”
We are enormously grateful to Jamie, his colleagues at The Alfred, and the Australian Society of Anaesthetists (ASA), who supported the #target80 campaign – and we hope you’ll take his advice and get counting!