During the 2012 Israeli invasion of Gaza, Dr. Tarek Loubani found himself without the right medical tools to treat patients in his emergency room.
“I had to hold my ear to the chests of victims because there were no good stethoscopes, and that was a tragedy, a travesty, and unacceptable,” Loubani told attendees during a presentation at the Chaos Communications Camp in Zehdenick, Germany. (Via)
That’s when he formed the Glia project. A team of hackers and surgeons used open-source software to test whether they could 3D-print a properly functional stethoscope head and assemble it with readily available parts for less than they could buy a top-of-the line model.
What they found is that their stethoscope, with a 30-cent 3D-printed head, and less than $5 worth of tubing, exceeded not only international standards for audio-frequency response, but had better sound quality than the $200 stethoscopes they couldn’t afford in the first place. Peer review is underway to see if the device really works as well as the Glia team claims, but Dr. Loubani is sure it’ll pass inspection with a third party.
The Glia project has already begun working on open-sourcing a pulse oximeter and electrocardiogram. They will use printed circuit boards and 3D-printed housing. Loubani estimates it’ll be two years before they have a working electrocardiogram. He keeps all their files on GitHub, because he envisions a future where hospitals all over the world can print the tools they need for a price they can afford.
“We made a list of these things, that if I could bring them into Gaza, into the third world in which I work and live, then I felt like I could change the lives of my patients,” he explained. “I wanted the people I work with to take it, and to print it, and to improve it because I knew all I wanted to do was bring the idea.” (Via)
Loubani funded the entire project out of pocket, which cost him $10,000.