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Health Team

Duke Donating Used Equipment to Ugandan Hospital

Posted July 30, 2007 3:49 p.m. EDT
Updated July 30, 2007 10:18 p.m. EDT

— The surplus warehouse at Duke University Medical Center was overflowing with medical equipment that the hospital no longer needed. But a surgeon has helped launched an aid program to get the equipment to hospitals that do need it.

Dr. Michael Haglund, a neurosurgeon at Duke, went on a church mission trip to Uganda, where he assisted local physicians at Mulago National Hospital in Kampala. The lack of proper equipment at the hospital made caring for patients difficult, he said.

The hospital had no oxygen or blood pressure monitors and only one anesthesia machine and ventilator.

A victim of a car wreck was kept alive by the one ventilator until the power to the hospital went out one night. When the backup generators kicked in, the machine was reset from eight to zero breaths per minute.

"His brain swelling increased dramatically, and he died," Haglund said, noting that an oxygen monitor might have alerted nurses to the problem.

So, Haglund decided that, when he returned to Durham, he would try to help the hospital with some of its needs by scrounging used equipment from Duke University Hospital.

Then he discovered the stash of equipment in the surplus warehouse.

"The stuff that's over there that's usable, nobody knew that it was there," he said. "Next thing I know, we had $1.1 million worth of equipment and, like, six tons of medical equipment we're shipping over to Uganda."

Haglund's effort prompted the medical center to establish Duke Global Health Plus to donate surplus equipment and supplies to struggling hospitals around the world.

Haglund is trying to round up $35,000 in donations to pay for shipping costs. He and a 28-member neurosurgery team plan to head to Uganda on Aug. 10 to deliver the equipment and train Mulago National Hospital staff to use it.

"We can change in one week how they practice medicine in that hospital," he said.

To donate to the effort, contact Anne Bax, associate director for finance and administration at the Duke Global Health Institute, 234 Trent Hall, Box 90519, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710 or call 919-681-7712.