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Doctor created 3-D Printed Low-cost Stethoscope to help people in Gaza

In a field where innovation saves lives, 3D printing empowers doctors, researchers, and medical device manufacturers to work fast, test thoroughly and customize like never before.   

3D printing technologies have opened up the capabilities for customization in a wide variety of applications in the medical field. Using bio-compatible and drug-contact materials, medical devices can be produced that are perfectly suited for a particular individual.   

An amazing Invention of a low-cost 3-D printed stethoscope by a Palestinian-Canadian doctor, the first in a series of inventions he hopes will help alleviate medical supply shortages caused by an eight-year blockade on the Gaza Strip. Dr. Tarek Loubani says his stethoscope can be made for just $2.50 — a fraction of the cost of leading brands — and some doctors say the equipment is just as good.  

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Dr. Tarek Loubani, a Palestinian-Canadian doctor with a 3-D Printed Stethoscope (Image credit: AP Photo/ Khalil Hamra)  

The shortage of basic medical devices in the isolated Palestinian territory “is something that I think we can translate from a big problem to a big win for us in Gaza,” said Loubani, an emergency medicine doctor from London, Canada, whose Glia Project aims to provide medical supplies to impoverished places like Gaza.  

Hospitals have been struggling since the militant Hamas group took over the Gaza Strip in 2007 and Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on the territory. The import restrictions have led to shortages of medicines and basic supplies like medical consumables and IV bags. Three wars with Israel, a bitter political rift between rival Palestinian factions, and a failure by international donors to deliver on promised pledges of money have compounded the crisis.  

Loubani hopes to “produce these devices locally so they meet local need and so that they are not dependent on the political winds of the Israelis and of the donor community.” The 34-year-old emergency medicine doctor from London, Ontario, helped out at Shifa, Gaza City’s main hospital, during an eight-day war between Israel and Palestinian militants in 2012.  

As wounded Palestinians poured into the emergency room, the doctors there had to make do with just two stethoscopes, he said. Back in Canada after the war, he was playing with his nephew’s toy stethoscope when he realized a real stethoscope’s ear tube might not need to be made of stainless steel. After several years of researching, designing, and testing, Loubani and his team unveiled a plastic prototype last month.  

The first 3-D printed stethoscope was tested in Canada using a balloon filled with water. Audio tests showed that the Glia stethoscope was on par with the leading model on the market, the Littmann Cardiology III.  

“The Glia model stethoscope is indeed a high-quality instrument,” said Dr. Jonathan Dreyer, research director of emergency medicine at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Western Ontario, who is not a member of the Glia Project. (Source: AP)

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