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Zipline and Helmer Scientific Partner to Save Lives in Rwanda

Posted on May 16, 2018 by Colleen Holtkamp


Postpartum hemorrhage causes millions of preventable maternal deaths each year. In these cases, a timely blood transfusion can save a mother’s life. In addition, patients with malaria may become severely anemic and must be treated with blood. In situations where it takes too long for blood products to reach these patients, lives are lost.

The country of Rwanda had been dealing with this challenging scenario. A large part of the population lives in rural areas with unpaved roads and hilly terrain. Transportation logistics are even more difficult during the twice-a-year rainy season. The combination of long distances and travel challenges meant long turnaround times for getting life-saving blood products to the patients that need them.

Zipline, a U.S. robotics firm based in the Silicon Valley, broke new ground when they implemented the world’s first drone delivery service for blood products in Rwanda. Historically, the process to deliver emergency blood supplies to regional hospitals could take up to 5 hours by ambulance or motorbike. Zipline provides seamless delivery, managing all aspects of the service. Now, a lab technician enters an order on a smartphone and Zipline’s distribution center will send a drone packed with the required blood products in as little as 15 to 30 minutes.

Helmer Scientific was selected as a partner to help manage the storage and processing of blood products in Zipline’s drone distribution hubs. Helmer blood bank refrigerators, freezers, platelet storage systems, and plasma thawers are being used to ensure the safe storage and handling of products at the front-end of the Zipline delivery service. If you would like more information on the high-quality, reliable storage and processing products from Helmer that are being used to manage the Zipline cold chain, please visit our website.

Zipline has developed a beautiful video that illustrates how lives are being saved in Rwanda. Watch the video to learn more about Zipline drone delivery and to see the essential role Helmer products play in their distribution centers.

Colleen Holtkamp

Written by Colleen Holtkamp

Helmer designs, manufactures, and markets specialized medical and laboratory equipment to customers in more than 125 countries. With an extensive background in Helmer products, Colleen’s focus is on the Clinical Laboratory and Blood Bank segments.

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