Our surgical drill covers have made surgery safer for more than twelve thousand people in developing countries.
As a mechanical engineering student at UBC, I started off doing two co-ops at oil and gas companies in Alberta and then joined Engineers Without Borders for the following three. I wanted to make friends, and they seemed like a bunch of like-minded individuals doing cool things.
This brought me to Zambia and then Ghana, and gave me the opportunity to look at human and economic systems. I helped small scale farmers go from subsistence to commercial farming and linked small-scale mechanics and welders with large multi-national companies who needed their skills.
When I finished my degree, I rolled my experience and interest in social enterprise and systemic change in Africa into a master’s degree program in biomedical engineering. During this time, I travelled to Uganda and spent some time in a hospital. The staff there were highly trained, but more and more patients showed up every day, and there just wasn’t enough equipment or resources to make a difference.
That interest was what attracted me to the work being done by a team of students in the Engineers In Scrubs program. They envisioned a sterile surgical drill cover that would transform low-cost hardware store drills into safe and accurate surgical drills for use in Uganda. Together, we founded Arbutus Medical and are helping clinicians to provide safe surgery to patients throughout the developing world.
Injury is one of the greatest burdens in global health – bigger than HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria combined! Although the world is starting to pay attention to this, there are still 5 billion people worldwide who do not have access to safe surgery. A big part of healthcare delivery is safe and effective equipment, and that’s where we engineers come in.
As CEO, I still rely on things that I learned in engineering. It helps me think critically about how to run my business and how to approach new markets. It’s all problem solving. We break everything down to first principles. Why? What is the root of this problem? Who are we really trying to reach? What is the real message?