Students use 3D printers to save lives

Posted on Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Justin McLeod + Kristina Djukic
Justin McLeod and Kristina Djukic, winners of the pulse oximeter challenge.
By Mike Foster

In November 2015, emergency room physician Tarek Loubani, who works at al-Shifa Hospital in the Gaza Strip for four months every year, challenged Faculty of Engineering students to design cheap but accurate pulse oximeters. The devices measure oxygen saturation in blood flow and can help diagnose conditions such as blood clots or heart attacks.

Previously, Dr. Loubani, who also works for London Health Sciences in London, Ontario, had responded to shortages of stethoscopes in Gaza by using a 3D printer to make them for about $2.50 each.

Faculty of Engineering professor Hanan Anis saw a tweet from Dr. Loubani about the stethoscopes and invited him to inspire students to make accurate pulse oximeters for $25 or less at the uOttawa Richard L’Abbé Makerspace.

At the Makerspace Oximeter Design Challenge Finale this week, Dr. Loubani named Justin McLeod and Kristina Djukic as winners of the contest. Shannon Lee and Robert Rayson took second place, and Azadeh Dastmalchi, Elisha Pruner, Rachel Cohen, Ali Ghorabi and Sean Gomez were awarded third place.

Last year, the first Makerspace Design Challenge made a 3D-printed prosthetic hand for a six-year-old boy.

Professor Anis said that this year, 35 students took part in the challenge and that each of the three finalist teams had spent hundreds of hours working on their entries.

Shannon Lee
Shannon Lee with her second-place pulse oximeter.
Elisha Pruner + Azadeh Dastmalchi
Elisha Pruner (left) and Azadeh Dastmalchi with the pulse oximeter they designed with their team.
Professor Hanan Anis + Dr. Tarek Loubani
Professor Hanan Anis and Dr. Tarek Loubani.
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