“The only reason why I survived was because I had access to an excellent healthcare system.” Temie Giwa-Tubosun told The Guardian. “It made me think: what about the women who don’t?” Scared and in pain after suffering excessive bleeding during the birth of her son, Temie did not want to become one of the many Nigerian women who do not go home with their newborns.
Nigeria’s maternal mortality rate is one of the highest in the world – 814 deaths per 100,000 live births – and postpartum hemorrhage is the leading cause. But because of the country’s major blood shortage, women and girls without access to quality healthcare will continue to die from blood loss and children will continue to grow up without their mothers. So Giwa-Tubosun founded LifeBank, the first digital blood bank and a beacon of hope.
Since its inception in 2016, the company has been working tirelessly to help turn those numbers around. And it shows. Giwa-Tubosun and her team have moved around 17,000 units, served over 850 hospitals, and saved over 5,200 lives, making LifeBank Nigeria’s invaluable solution to promising Nigerian women and girls the life they deserve with their new babies.
“OUR MISSION IS TO SAVE A MILLION LIVES ACROSS AFRICA IN TEN YEARS BY ENSURING ACCESS TO ESSENTIAL HEALTH CARE PRODUCTS TO HOSPITALS ACROSS THE CONTINENT. WE DELIVER THESE PRODUCTS FASTER, CHEAPER, AND SAFER.”
The LifeBank app allows medical professionals to order blood and plasma based on factors such as blood type and urgency, which is then stored in dedicated cooled boxes with Bluetooth padlocks that can only be opened by the recipient. Those boxes are transported on the backs of LifeBank employees on mopeds, who can deliver in less than 45 minutes. More recently, LifeBank began using drones to make deliveries. They also regularly organizes blood drives and educates the public to overcome any misconceptions about donating. The company has recently added AirBank for oxygen, and is now delivering other medical essentials, such as oxygen, vaccines, and antivenom. Since inception, they have moved over 21,000 units to over 1100 hospitals.
To further the mission beyond the business, LifeBank created BOAT, a fund created to provide blood and oxygen to poor and vulnerable Nigerians, free of charge.
“My mother won the visa lottery, so when I was young my family relocated to Minnesota. I think I’m the only one of my siblings who always viewed Nigeria as home. I participated in Model UN. I studied international political science. I admired Nelson Mandela. So I always knew I’d go back to Africa one day.
After graduation I interned with an NGO in Northern Nigeria. During that trip I witnessed a breached birth in a village. There was no C-Section available, so the baby died. I knew then that not only would I be coming home to Nigeria, but I’d be doing something in healthcare. I’ve been home for six years now. I’ve chosen to work on the country’s blood distribution problem. Every year tens of thousands of people die while waiting for blood. Meanwhile there are blood banks discarding unused inventory.
My company @LifeBankNigeria is trying to close that gap. Most blood banks in Lagos are participating in our program. Every morning we take an inventory. And when blood is urgently needed, we use bikes to deliver. It’s not easy. Imagine New York City without the infrastructure and no subway system. That’s Lagos. Yet LifeBank has delivered over 10,000 bags of blood within 55 minutes. Blood shortage is a global problem. And if we can do it in Lagos, we can do it anywhere. In December we’re expanding to two new cities. But I see us all over the world.”
-Temie Giwa-Tubosun, as told to Humans of New York