New York – October 20, 2011 – Lifebox, a global not-for-profit organization aimed at reducing mortality through safer surgery, today expressed gratitude to Smile Train, the world’s largest cleft lip and cleft palate charity, for its generous contribution to the organization. Smile Train is a key early funder and collaborator responsible for the donation of 2,200 pulse oximeters, which are being sent to operating rooms in low-resource countries worldwide. These pulse oximeters, coupled with education for staff, can save tens of thousands of lives in low resource countries each year by alerting medical professionals to an unsafe drop in a patient’s blood oxygen level during surgery.
“Smile Train’s significant contributions are making a huge impact in the safety of surgeries around the world. It gives us great pleasure that we are able to work together to save lives and make pulse oximeters available in countries that need them the most,” said Pauline Philip, CEO of Lifebox.
“We are proud of our support of Lifebox which ensures that our partner hospitals around the world are given the tools to provide the safest and highest quality environment to our Smile Train patients,” said Priscilla Ma, Executive Director of Smile Train.
Pulse oximeters, a component of the World Health Organization Surgical Safety Checklist, measure the level of oxygen in a patient’s blood during anesthesia, sounding an early warning alarm if a patient is becoming short of oxygen, providing an opportunity to prevent brain damage, heart failure and in some cases, death. Recent statistics estimate that the number of operating rooms working without pulse oximetry ranges from 41 percent in Latin America, to 49 percent in South Asia, to 70 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The not-for-profit organization Lifebox, formed in April 2011, grew out of a global initiative to make surgery safer worldwide: the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist, which has been shown to reduce surgical complications and death by more than one third. Lifebox is working to make sure no patient dies simply because a pulse oximeter is not available during surgery. The group worked with international clinicians and manufacturers to develop the world’s foremost low-cost, high-quality pulse oximeter compliant with all international standards. Each oximeter package costs $250 USD, including delivery, and also includes an educational CD with training materials for self-learning, and classroom programs to teach others about pulse oximetry and the WHO Surgical Safety Checklist. Please visit www.lifebox.org to make a donation.
About Smile Train
Founded in 1999, Smile Train is the world’s largest cleft charity with over 2,600 partner surgeons operating in over 1,100 partner hospitals, and has helped children in over 80 countries – many of the world's poorest. Smile Train provides free cleft lip and cleft palate surgery to children from poor families that give a child not just a new smile, but a chance at a new life. For additional information, please visit www.smiletrain.org.
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1. Funk LM et al. Global operating theatre distribution and pulse oximetry supply: an estimation from reported data. Lancet. 2010 Sep 25;376(9746):1055-61. Epub 2010 Jul 2.