Most of countries are lacking blood donors. Norway has around 100.000 active members of The Blood Bank but needs at least 30% more.  

Many people are not allowed to donate, and big part of those who can still don't. They either never thought about that, are afraid or find the whole process too complicated. Unfortunately, blood still con not be artificially made and 50% of us will need it during our lifetime. That's why blood donation is absolutely necessary. The goal of my project was to rethink blood donation and to find and design the solution for both near and far future. 

 

TOPIC CHOICE

Oslo has 16.500 active donors and the goal for the near future is to get at least 20.000 more. Number of inhabitants and blood consumption increases every year. However, the number of donors remains stable.

Blood, so far can not be artificially made. This year polish scientists managed to make synthetic red blood cells but after transfusion they last only a couple of hours. That's why we need blood donation, and that happens only on voluntary basis. 1 donation gives 450 ml of blood and can save up to 3 lives. Blood from donation is used for transfusions and/or made into biopharmaceutical medications50% of us will need it during our lifetime, and 50% of all the blood from Oslo University Hospital goes to patients with cancer.

THE WHOLE PROCESS

I've visited twice a blood bank located in Oslo University Hospital to get familiar with the whole process that donated blood goes through. First thing to do was to become a donor myself. That was a scary, but very valuable experience for me and for the project. During the next visit I've learned about the process from the donor to the patient. You can find similar information in the film to the right. 

SOME FACTS

People from the blood bank located in Oslo University Hospital were very open and willing to share some of the information.  The majority of blood donors are between 25 and 39 years old. There are different reasons for not donating, but generally health, sexual orientation, having no friends that donate or talk about it and the fear of needles or blood. Approximately 20% of the population has some degree of fear associated with needles and injections. 

 

To confirm the informations from the blood bank I've decided to send around a quick survey. Most of the responders were young people/students and have never donated blood. Most common reasons for that were inconvenient location, fear and lack of informations. Those who did donate had 2 reasons helping others and getting free food and gifts.  

CONCLUSION & IDEAS

Oslo needs more that twice as many blood donors but don't have a clear idea how to get them. Most of young people  have never donated blood. Generally people donate blood because they know that it’s a right thing to do and want to help others. Best motivation would be informations, friends and no needles. That opens up for a new kind of service that would meet need of both donors and the bank.  

RETHINKING BLOOD DONATION

With all gathered informations I've started to rethink whole concept of blood bank. It led me to idea about moving whole blood bank to a different environment with a new service. Every donor in Norway gets free food and drinks. Café, as an old concept can create completely new experience. 

One part of this service is the method of blood donation. Are there any other possibilities for now or the future? I've started with mapping every direction from needle-robot to vampire. Ongoing research of this field showed up to be surprisingly similar (you can read more about it in the future-part). One of ideas is a blood drawing device "Tasso" that can be simply attached to skin and collect small amount of blood for tests. 

I've sent another survey to hear how possible donors see futures of the blood bank. I had to be careful with the analyze of answers. Most of people feel comfortable with what they already know. However, many specially young people are open for trying new things. Painless blood donation at a Blood Bank «Café» showed up to be a promising alternative.

THE NEAR FUTURE

Traditional blood donation at a new kind of place with café mood.

PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT

During this faze I had the new donation-café concept in mind and collaborated closely with donors, donors-to-be and the blood bank at Oslo University Hospital. My goal was to design a new donation chair that would fit in the new environment and meet the real needs of donors and staff. I've mapped out all the elements required for a blood donation process. With that basis I could move to sketching and testing. I've decided to start with solving one of the biggest issues that is the fear of needles. New armrest with a cover would provide a more comfortable situation and hopefully motivate people to become a blood donor. 

The mechanism of the cover is based on rotary movement around it's axis. When the cover is down the user can comfortably place his hand on the arm rest and the nurse can easily apply the needle. After that, the cover can be lowered down and give the donor visual comfort. 

I've quickly found out that I needed to learn more about sitting and the chair itself. Among many, helpful in this process books lies "Rethinking sitting" by Peter Opsvik. He describes mostly bodily desires and well designed chairs. One of them is "Gravity Balans" that provides many possible sitting positions. The highest position puts your legs above your head and boosts your creative thinking, but also is very healthy and gives the feeling of weightlessness. It also lovers the chance of feeling dizzy during blood donation.

After I've got this new input I could move forward to development of the chair itself. My goal was to make it practical, comfortable and good looking. Both the form and details were quite satisfying but it was hard to say if it will be comfortable to sit it. 

I decided to make a small research about armchairs. I went to some good furniture stores located in Oslo and tested many good designs. I wanted to find out what is the secret of a perfect seat. 

What this research showed me wasn't the secret that I was hoping to know. I noticed that even after making the lounge different from others it seemed pretty boring and that it was nothing specially new about it. I've got an idea to make it in form of a new hammock lounge. Unlike any other hammock, this one will give support for head and knees that will prevent any hyperextension. This concept really gave me inspiration for developing it further.

Like with my previous concept I experienced that in order to make a comfortable seat I would have to test it first. My mock-up turned out to have wrong proportions but seemed to have big potential to become very comfortable.  

THE FINALE DESIGN

I've tested out different constructions and proportions by using SolidWorks that is a CAD program. It was difficult to make it both comfortable and not heavy or cage looking. I decided to stick to the circle as my main shape because of the concept of  rotating arm-cover that I was very satisfied with. 

After taking measurements and trying several mock-ups and CADs my design was ready but has still many details that should be further developed.

The construction part is made out of painted metal and connects the whole lounge with mainly wooden locker. Cylinders that provide comfort have lighter, wooden construction and are covered with foam and textile. The seat is simply one piece of leather or a durable, hygienic textile. I'm not sure about the rotary mechanism of the arm-cover but wood is a possible material. The top part of the arm rest is covered with the same leather/textile as the seat.

MODEL MAKING

After moths of working with the concept I came to my favorite part of the design process: model making. This is the part where you can really put your hands on the design and there is no escape or cheating. For me by making a full scale model I can really understand my product and discover all the problems and mistakes. Now I know that for it's further development I should let many people test and give me valuable feedback.

THE FAR FUTURE

Painless blood donation at a new kind of place with café mood.

ONGOING RESEARCH

Many scientist are currently working with new kinds of needles. One research takes inspiration from mosquito and its 6 "needles" that she uses for a "bite".  Two of them push tissues to sides in order to provide least contact of the next one, and lower the pain. The last one that comes in contact with the skin is soft and "programmed" to find closest blood vessels. 

A research team from KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm reports a successful test of its microneedle patch, which combines stainless steel needles embedded in a soft polymer base. Microneedles penetrate the upper layer of the skin, just enough to avoid touching the nerves. This enables delivery of drugs, as well as extracting body fluids for real-time monitoring of glucose. Scientists are working on making it more efficient and hopefully possible to use for blood collection, or even donation. 

I believe that this technology is going to be further developed and generally used. It shows a clear potential for the future of blood donation. On that basis I've developed my concept for the coming 30's. After analyzing body parts in level of accessibility, mobility good associations I came to the conclusion that this kind of product fits best with the upper arm. I've tested different shapes in order to provide good contact with skin and be intuitive to apply. 

The finale product is made of silicone with embedded surgical-steel microneedles. These are connected with the main 4mm wire. It leads the blood the the bag where it's collected. Barely visible needles and the soft base provide comfort for the user. It really doesn't look scary, does it?

Those patches are so easy and safe to use that they can be applied in almost every position. As long as the donor doesn't have the need of laying down, it can be used while sitting and having a good time with for instance a favorite coffee and a good book. Places that already own the hammock lounge (from my present concept) can just detach the locker and the armrest and keep the chair for those that need more relaxation. The only thing stopping people from donating will be their attitude and there won't be any excuses. 

More pictures

Tumblr on the project
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Aleksandra Wojcik
Industrial Designer

For me design is a field that have a possibility to solve real problems and improve people’s lifes, but it has also right to be playful and “see form beyond function” (Yanko Design).

One of my inerests is japanese culture that lead me to learning of this language on my own. Among my interests lie also sustainable design, drawing and Sci-Fi.

I’m a tea and nature lover which gets adrenaline kicks from snowboarding and climbing.

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