“If everyone had the opportunity to build something like this, then the world would be a better place. I’ve been to a lot of different cities; people around the world are trying to build stuff like that. If she actually pulls it off then she’d show a model that will impact not just Lagos, not just Nigeria, but countries all around the world.” Mark Zuckerberg
Do you know what all human beings, irrespective of race, gender, colour, creed or status, share in common? Blood!
Did you know that according to the WHO (World Health Organisation), nearly 830 women die every day from pregnancy and childbearing-related issues?
Is it not shocking to know that of the 830 daily maternal deaths, 550 is estimated to occur in sub-Saharan Africa and 180 in Southern Asia, compared to 5, in resource-rich countries.
Did you also know that the commonest cause of maternal mortality in Sub-Saharan African still remains blood loss?
Did you know that Black Africans have one of the lowest blood and organ donation rates in the world?
Also, have you ever heard the quote from Peter Drucker, the Austrian-American Management Consultant that the best way to predict the future is to create it?
Why the facts…….?
Meet Temie Giwa-Tubosun, the lady who along with her LifeBank team is creating an Africa where death from blood loss will become greatly reduced. The universal life-giving fluid of our common humanity is difficult to get in many health care centres across sub-Saharan Africa. LifeBank has the vision to change Sub-Saharan Africa’s future and make blood readily available to those who need it.
Temitope Oluwaloni Olamide Giwa-Tubosun, is the daughter of two academics and the 4th child in a family of six children. Born in Osun state, Nigeria, she later moved to the US in her teenage years to join her parents who emigrated across the pond. This health entrepreneur is an alumna of both Minnesota State University Moorhead and Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. However, this Nigerian-American relocated from the United States back to Nigeria, determined to make a difference by saving lives.
In 2014, she was named amongst BBC’s 100 women “to take notice of now (and) in the future” making a difference around the world and her LifeBank project was featured on CNN’s African startups.
This 2017, she was named one of the 100 most inspiring women in Nigeria.
Are you wondering why this lady is getting all of these accolades? Wonder no more as she tells you in her own words, why Temie, LifeBank and Blood will almost always be in the same sentence.
My passion for maternal health was born the day I met a young woman who almost died while giving birth. We were travelling and we came to this village where we found a young woman, who had been in labour for three days and everybody around her were waiting for her to die. It was in a village in Kano, the baby had been a breech birth, and all they needed to do was to turn the baby and the baby would be fine – but the people around didn’t know what to do and how to do it in an effective way.
As a result of this the baby had died in the process, but the mother had not died and they were just waiting for her to die so the village can move on. I remember as if it were yesterday, the fighting spirit she had, it was clear from the determination in her eyes that she did not want to die. While she hung on in great pain, the other villagers waited in an agreed silence for her to pass on – they were incapacitated.
The vision catalyst………..!
Ever since that incident in Kano, I always felt that my place is in Nigeria. It became clear in my mind’s eye that the place I could have a lot of influence and make the need impact was in Nigeria.
A year ago, we officially launched LifeBank. Four months later, we went to market with our first product, a blood discovery and delivery app for Hospitals. It has been an incredible year of tough lessons for our young team, great recognition of our work, but above all, we have saved people’s lives. LifeBank is a health technology company focused on connecting hospitals with the blood they need across Sub-Saharan Africa. We built an app that allows us to list all the blood available in a community and where it is located. We deploy this information to our hospital clients and deliver blood, platelets, and plasma across Lagos 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
In 9 months we moved 1,968 pints of blood and blood products to 65 hospitals. We have provided discovery and delivery services to public hospitals like Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) and private hospitals like Reddington. We have moved products worth over 4 million Naira. We earn revenue on each service we provide and are committed to our financial and impactful bottom-line. We have also helped over 300 ordinary Nigerians give blood, and saved up to 900 lives in the process.
Now, these figures won’t mean much to the reader unless they have a glimpse into the technicalities involved. Blood can be referred to as The Elixir of life. When it flows through your veins then you are alive, when it leaves you (either via accident, childbirth or some other means) if something is not done to replenish it, the person dies soon enough. Blood feeds every cell, tissue, gland, organ and organ system in the body. However when we talk of replenishing or giving blood it is not as easy as it sounds as there are numerous factors that need to be taken into consideration which can be summarized into; blood group, rhesus factor, red cell compatibility, plasma compatibility, platelet compatibility etc. also the blood has to be safe and free from any infection. All blood donations undergo a number of tests to ensure product safety and quality. Series of tests are also done to ensure that the person receives a perfect match else the person’s body would react against it.
The effect starts to ripple………!
In the last year, we have learnt so much, we have met amazing Technologists like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, and Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State. We have had the chance to share LifeBank’s story with CNN, NewsWeek Europe, Channels Television, TEDxEuston and many others.
We have also been lucky with the calibre of advisors, investors, and supporters we’ve had. We have amazing people like Biola Alabi of Biola Alabi Media, Barbara Bush of Global Health Corps, Dr. Muyiwa Gbadegesin of the Oyo State Government, and the awesome team at the Co-Creation Hub, who have believed in LifeBank from day one and really put up their resources and helped propel us to this awesome stage of growth. We are also grateful for David Oamen, who invested his hard earned money into LifeBank in a contracting economy, this only shows commitment and a staunch confidence in what we are building. We have been so fortunate.
The turbulence in flow……..!
We have also had a few challenges, the biggest of which is the struggle to do on demand delivery during emergencies. We believe that it is in the best interest of patients for us to remove the emergency nature of getting medical products and we are exploring ways in which we can use data and technology to solve this.
One other major challenge we faced when we started LifeBank was the lack of infrastructure. My team and I needed to build everything.
At first, people challenged why I was doing this since I didn’t have any health training and then when they realised that I knew quite a lot about it, they understood and supported me. Furthermore, there was the challenge of funding. So, I got a job and worked really hard and I put a part of my salary every month into getting the organisation working. Now we have got some funding and it makes me feel so proud.
There is no stopping this flow……….!
However, there is no stopping our vision as the number of pints moved continues to grow quarterly. We continue to add new hospitals and we make enough money to cover operations and more. We have gained important insights about our market, our customers, and our operations that will propel us to our growth phase so we can do more for patients, blood banks, and hospitals. Over the next 2 years, our target is to move 100,000 products to 2,000 hospitals and save 100,000 lives once the need arises. We are also building a movement of a million Nigerians ready and willing to give blood to save lives.
Our goal is to get to one million active donors for our donor app- so as to increase the possibility of finding a match on time for recipients in need. However, this also means that people should be conscious of their lifestyle in order to have healthy blood. A few tips to this are:
- Regular exercise
- Eat more legumes and foods rich in fibre
- Get adequate iron rich food like unripe plantain
- Eat foods rich in Vitamin B or take B-vitamin supplement
- Eat more fruits and vegetables
- Reduce sugar intake
- Drink lots of water
- Quit smoking and reduce or eliminate the use of air fresheners
- Switch to natural body care products
I’m so excited about the future of LifeBank. We are working on amazing tools that would be game changers in the system. What we do is simple: it is to offer a service that makes a difference between life and death for so many people.
My big dream is to build a health system where all Nigerians can get access to good and affordable healthcare. In five years I see LifeBank across sub-Saharan Africa moving blood across the region. In five years we would be the premier discovery and logistics blood business in Sub-Saharan Africa.
What more can we say……….?
What more can we say? Temie has said it all in her very own words. She along with her team at LifeBank are taking action and predicting the future of healthcare on the African continent by re-writing it. We at LR share in the vision of LifeBank. With our Chief Editor and founder being a Gynaecologist and Obstetrician, the weight of maternal mortality in the sub-Saharan belt is one thing we seek to reduce significantly. Like a wise teacher once said, “no woman should die in the course of her reproductive duty”. If we know that many of these deaths are attributable to lack of blood and blood products when it is required, we will join the rest of the world to share this quote:
You do not have to be a doctor to save lives. Just donate blood
LR Team hopes this article got you motivationally challenged and thinking as it did us; what future creation are you inspired to initiate? If Temie can do this unique intervention to save lives, so too can each of us make a difference in our niche. We look forward to reading your comments and possibly your decision to donate blood soon. However, do one thing before you hit the comments section…watch the clip below.
*All images and video used with permission of the LifeBank Team*