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Keely Buesing

Lifesaving Medical Technology

Bringing Oxygen to Injured Soldiers on the Battlefield

May 2019

If a civilian suffers a traumatic lung injury, he or she will likely require a ventilator to help them breathe. But if you’re a solider being transported for medical care, the tools to save your life aren’t so easy to access.

That’s why UNMC’s Dr. Keely Buesing and a collaborative team of researchers are developing a portable alternative for oxygen delivery. In the event of severe respiratory distress syndrome, the new system they’re creating would be used to save warfighters’ lives on the way to the hospital.

students gathered around a digital medical learning device

When the lungs can’t do their job, this new system transforms the abdomen into a kind of third lung. It will deliver oxygenated microbubbles into the abdomen, providing oxygen the solider needs to maintain organ function while his or her lungs recover.

“In order for lungs to heal, they need to rest. The best way is to provide oxygen through another means,” says Buesing.

The team also hopes to develop a chest tube system that could deliver the microbubbles.

All of this work is possible thanks to a Department of Defense (DoD) Air Force contract awarded to the University’s National Strategic Research Institute (NSRI). The NSRI is one of 13 University Affiliated Research Centers across the nation delivering relevant and timely research solutions that directly impact DoD operations and national security. The Air Force is responsible for advancements in en route patient care for warfighters, which is why it has an interest in this project.

“The DoD has now rewarded three contracts to the University for this project, the most recent totaling $3.8M.”

The DoD has now rewarded three contracts to the University for Buesing’s project, the most recent totaling $3.8M. Researchers hope this six-year contract, which began in September 2018, will take their work all the way to the beginning of FDA trials.

Like Buesing’s work, research at the University of Nebraska has a significant and important impact. It’s not only bringing the University national attention that pushes the state forward. It’s saving the lives of our service members on the battlefield. And that’s a cause worth fighting for.

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