An Indiana company is playing a key role in a lifesaving mission in Africa. Noblesville-based Helmer Scientific, which makes medical-grade refrigerators, freezers and blood bank storage equipment, is working with a Silicon Valley company to deliver critical blood supplies to remote areas of Rwanda. Helmer is working with robotics company Zipline on the high-tech effort, which the Indiana company says specifically targets mothers that have bleeding issues while giving birth.
During an interview last month with Business of Health Reporter Kylie Veleta, Helmer Chief Executive Officer Bruce King said the drones help the companies combat the "complication of poverty and terrain" in rural Rwanda.
King says, while the drones get most of the attention in an effort like this, Helmer’s "behind the scenes" work is critical to making it work. He says blood only remains viable for about 42 days in storage, so Helmer’s equipment helps ensure it is viable for patients when it is delivered. Helmer provides blood bank refrigerators, plasma freezers, plasma thawers and platelet storage systems to Zipline, which launched the drone delivery operation in 2016.
King says the mission is an opportunity for growth – Zipline is opening a second distribution center in Rwanda this fall that will also use Helmer equipment. However, he adds it’s also a chance to do good for people across the world, calling the effort a "unique solution to a big health problem."