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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- The waste is staggering -- two million tons of medical supplies are tossed in the trash in the United States each year. Now a Louisville organization is saving some of it to save lives around the world.
Nurse Wanda Moore heads back into the surgery wing at Saints Mary and Elizabeth wondering what supplies the doctors will not need. Gowns, gloves, sutures -- in the past it all went to the trash after surgery just because it was in the room -- even if it wasn't used.
Now the hospital's surplus is a medical mission donation, with the supplies being sent over to Third World countries. Every week a volunteer from Supplies Over Seas rolls through the hospital to salvage the supplies that are left.
"They can reprocess and use it for something that's not sterile," Moore says. That blue gown the doctor didn't wear can be used to wrap a newborn child, for example.
The Louisville non-profit has partnered with 75 donating medical facilities bringing supplies to 91 countries since 1993. All donations are kept in a giant warehouse downtown. Everything there has been brought from hospitals and doctors' offices. That's when the real work begins, as volunteers start to sort through the supplies and figure out how they can be used again.
The most important item is gloves -- in most places the organization goes to, they don't have basic examination gloves.
SOS has a 14,000 pound shipment heading to the Philippines on Friday.
Ten million children under the age of five die each year due to a lack of adequate medical care. Now places such as Ecuador, Ghana, and Haiti can have a chance to obtain needed supplies. As Moore puts it, "It really makes you realize how fortunate we are for what have and what astronomical waste that we do have and we don't think about it a lot."
SOS is completely funded by donations, and as much as they need money and volunteers to sort.