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Medical Supplies Donated to Local Nonprofits

The LifeSource tissue recovery team finds new life for unused medical supplies to help those in under-served countries.

Shortly after joining the LifeSource team in September of 2021,Tissue Recovery Specialist Ann Hofer, noticed many unused medical supplies were simply being discarded after tissue recovery cases.

For the tissue recovery process, LifeSource partners with tissue processors, who accept these generous gifts from heroic donors in our community – including connective tissue, bone, eyes, heart valves and skin. For each recovery, our processors provide pre-made clinical packs containing specific supplies needed for each type of recovered tissue.  

Often, not all supplies can be utilized during a recovery, these supplies can include drapes, tablecloths, culture swabs, lab sponges, bags and scalpels. Due to FDA regulations, once the processor’s pre-made packs are opened, the supplies are no longer considered sterile, meaning the supplies can no longer be re-used in future recoveries.

As someone who hates to waste anything, Ann knew there had to be a better opportunity for the supplies, instead of just discarding what could no longer be utilized.

The Search to Recycle Unused Tissue Recovery Supplies

To start, Ann contacted the local Humane Society who was unfortunately unable to accept any medical supplies, but graciously provided a list of animal rescues in the area who they thought could. So, the search continued.

After exhausting that list, the only rescue able to accept medical supplies was Ruff Start Rescue in Princeton, Minnesota. This is around the time when fellow Tissue Recovery Specialist Lindsay Synowczynski heard about Ann’s mission to recycle the unused tissue recovery supplies and she jumped in on the initiative. In fact, Lindsay knew the owner at Ruff Start Rescue and was happy to hear LifeSource was supporting them.

At the first supplies drop-off, Ann and Lindsay learned that Ruff Start Rescue could only make use of the tablecloths and drapes. Ann and Lindsay knew they could do more. So they went to work identifying a place that could put the rest of these supplies to good use. Finally, with the help of Ruff Start, they connected with Global Health Ministries, a nonprofit based out of Fridley, MN.

A New Partnership to Heal Lives

Global Health Ministries (GHM) helps build the capacity of Lutheran health systems in under-resourced countries. One of their areas of expertise is sustaining a supply chain of equipment and tools to mission hospitals so that vulnerable people around the world can receive medical care. Donated medical supplies from the US – either overstocked or unused – are a lifeline to mission clinics.

The nonprofit serves almost 20 countries in Africa, Asia and Central America. Many places in these countries don’t have the ability or resources to purchase updated equipment of supplies. In the U.S., we often update medical supplies as new versions come out, making the current stock “outdated” even though the supplies are brand new.

The first drop-off of supplies Lindsay and Ann brought to GHM was huge; the to-be-donated supplies had piled up while they were looking for a nonprofit that truly needed what they had. When they arrived at the GHM warehouse, they realized they’d found a perfect place these unused (but still useful) supplies to go.

As an annual goal, GHM aims to send twenty 12,000 sq. ft. shipping containers filled from top to bottom with supplies to their mission hospitals. To help GHM reach this goal, LifeSource team members will drop off the unused supplies every two weeks, sometimes more frequently. This means unused supplies get a second life, helping those who need it.

This partnership and use of resources is one example of team members living our organizational values of Respect, Advocacy, Accountability, Life and Innovation. Together, we can make a difference.

Wondering how you can help too? GHM has a list of items that are always needed. Visit the GHM website to learn more about how to donate and volunteer.

We’re proud to have passionate, resourceful and innovative people on our team. Visit our Careers page for opportunities to join the team and save lives.