Gillian HenkerWe’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Gillian Henker. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Gillian below.

Hi Gillian, thanks for joining us today. So let’s jump to your mission – what’s the backstory behind how you developed the mission that drives your brand?

At Sisu Global, we set our vision for a world where medical technology enables access to healthcare in every community. In 2010 at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), I set out to create medical devices to fit the unmet needs of those in resource-limited settings — medical devices that are simple in nature yet impactful in design, serve as a lifesaving intervention for patients, and directly influence the entire healthcare ecosystem.

Joining with others in 2014 to found Sisu Global, we began developing our first flagship device, Hemafuse. Hemafuse was conceived in response to the lack of donor blood in many hospitals around the world. I, like many others, was asked by a nurse about my blood type for a maternal patient who needed blood urgently due to hemorrhage. My blood type didn’t match, therefore I was unable to donate.

Hemafuse is an autotransfusion device that allows a patient’s own blood to be collected, filtered, and re-transfused immediately back to them in surgery – removing donor blood challenges, such as matching blood types and lab testing for disease transfer, from the process. I observed an autotransfusion technique in Ghana called the “scoop and sieve method,” which had clinicians saying “We need a better way.” These moments are what inspired our team to take Hemafuse from a notebook sketch in an academic setting to founding Sisu and commercializing devices similar to Hemafuse. Hemafuse is now used in operating theaters across five countries.

Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers.

I’m Gillian Henker, an engineer and entrepreneur who is the current President & Co-Founder of Sisu Global. I grew up in a family filled with nurses and was introduced to the field of healthcare at an early age. I initially wasn’t interested in healthcare and instead steered toward my strongest skills and favorite school subjects, math and science (I even did a project on Marie Curie in 5th grade) knowing that I wanted to make a difference through engineering. Fast forward to my time at the University of Michigan, I was a student in the Global Health program led by Professor Sienko. During that time, I studied abroad in Ghana and did a full month of observations at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, invented medical devices as part of my capstone project, and closed out my college career taking an entrepreneurship class. Ironically enough, I formed my first company the same weekend as graduation.

Hemafuse is Sisu Global’s innovative autotransfusion device that saves lives and increases access to blood. Hemafuse provides immediate access to blood transfusion across trauma, obstetric, general, and orthopedic surgeries with internal bleeding.

Sisu Global is pursuing a paradigm shift in how medical devices are conceived from the needs of individual patients as well as the healthcare system. We recognize that blood is a critical resource across all aspects of healthcare treatment, and the supply, of which has societal challenges layered with logistical and biological. Which brings us to Hemafuse, Sisu Global’s first medical device that saves patient’s lives by providing immediate access to blood in surgery while conserving limited donor blood for other patient cases outside of the operating theater. It is essential to build medical devices that strengthen our overall systems of healthcare while delivering the highest level of care to each patient.

As a founder of Sisu Global, I’m incredibly proud of seeing the hard work and long days put in by our team members over the years pay off. Hemafuse has evolved from a notebook sketch to a life-saving medical device, and the success of the device wouldn’t exist without clinicians. Having said that, I am also proud of the clinicians, those who were the first to use the device to present day, and the impact that Hemafuse has had on their patients.

At Sisu Global, we want readers to understand the dire need for blood and that donor blood isn’t always readily available — making Hemafuse a solution to the global blood shortage and a medical device that is meant for every hospital.

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