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Bend-based foundation helping reuse Dutch medical instruments in Ethiopia

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Bend-based ReachAnother Foundation is working with hospitals in the Netherlands to give thousands of medical instruments a fresh lease on life after spotting an opportunity to find an alternative use for a vast array of perfectly viable equipment that would otherwise become redundant under new EU regulatory standards.

The initiative was named the “Lazarus Project.”

Marinus Koning and his twin brother Jan Koning, based respectively in Bend, Oregon and Delft, The Netherlands, are both former surgeons and co-founders of the ReachAnother Foundation, which helps Ethiopia build the medical self-sufficiency and prevention awareness the country needs to save the lives of babies born with hydrocephalus (water on the brain) and spina bifida.

Marinus Koning said: “Good tools are half the work, and we were told stories by newly graduated neurosurgeons in Ethiopia that they could not perform surgery because of a lack of instruments. They were moved to tears when we gave them a set of just 20, because it allowed them to start applying their skills with patients immediately.

"When we heard about the new European regulations, we immediately realized the tremendous opportunity we had to meet a huge need in Ethiopia for everything from surgical scissors, needle holders, retractors, forceps and chisels, to basic sutures,” he said.

The instruments are carefully selected and where necessary refurbished and sent to the Ethiopian Ministry of Health for the “Saving Lives Through Safe Surgery” initiative.

Two Dutch hospitals contributed to the first shipment of the Lazarus Project.  The instruments transported had a total value of $287,000, if they had to be purchased new.

Jan Koning said that 90 Dutch hospitals can potentially participate in the Lazarus project, with approximately 6 million instruments in-house needing to be replaced.

The Lazarus Project is stimulating ReachAnother to set a goal of providing $1 million worth of refurbished instruments per year, as well as specialized new equipment to its partners in Ethiopia.

Over the last 10 years, ReachAnother Foundation has enjoyed a great partnership with St. Charles Health System in Bend and other health institutions in Oregon to bring much needed medical equipment and supplies.  

Marinus Koning concluded, “There is tremendous humanitarian and economic need in Ethiopia and other developing countries, which can, to a great extent, be relieved by strengthening small local hospitals with fast and simple initiatives, such as what we are doing in recycling medical instruments through the Lazarus Project.

"ReachAnother Foundation would warmly welcome more hospitals in the US and other countries to step up to support the project, or for more donors to help with financing the transport costs involved.”

ReachAnother Foundation is a 501(C)3 non-profit organization based in Bend, Federal Tax ID: 27-1440140.

Visit their website at: www.reachanother.org

Bend / Central Oregon / Health / Top Stories

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