Doctor Deploys 3D-Printed Tourniquets During Gaza Protests
Michael Molitch-Hou posted on May 17, 2018 |

Right now, doctors at hospitals in the besieged Palestinian territory of Gaza are working to repair the wounds of protestors injured by Israeli Defense Forces this week. Among those injured is one such doctor: Tarek Loubani.

3D-printed tourniquets made by Dr. Loubani and the Glia team. (Image courtesy of Glia.)
3D-printed tourniquets made by Dr. Loubani and the Glia team. (Image courtesy of Glia.)

Dr. Loubani’s Glia Project previously developed a 3D-printed stethoscope, which received clinical validation and could be fabricated forjust $0.30. By 3D printing the stethoscope and other medical devices within the confines of Gaza, it’s possible to bypass the Israeli blockade currently encircling the territory and preventing the entrance of much-needed supplies.

The Hayat Center for Emergency & Crisis Management at the Islamic University of Gaza determined that bringing tourniquets to Gaza couldhelp reduce deaths related to blood loss. Dr. Loubani writes in a recent blogpost: “When the center tried to obtain CAT tourniquets for its new ‘Stop Bleeding’ campaign, they were almost impossible to obtain. In addition to the high cost of USD$50 per unit for 20,000 units paid in advance, approvals to get the supplies through Israel’s blockade could take many months—or never come at all.”

Having printed and validated the stethoscope, the Gila Project then began to focus on designing an open-source, 3D-printed tourniquet. Unlike the aforementioned CAT tourniquet, which is designed for military personnel, the Gila device would be usable on the majority child population of Gaza, as well as the territory’s adults.

Designed and field-tested over the course of the last year, the resulting tourniquets could be 3D-printed using local and recycled plastic on Prusa i3 MK2 3D printers for just $7.00. The Hayat Center then began training paramedics on the use of tourniquets. In anticipation of the upcoming protests, the Gila team ceased work on its other projects and focused on the tourniquets.

Since March 30, Palestinians within Gaza have approached the militarized fence that separates the Gaza Strip from Israel to demand the lifting of the siege on Gaza and the right of Palestinians to return to Israel as refugees. The nonviolent protests reached a crescendo that coincided with the movement of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and the 70th anniversary of the Nakba, a day in 1948 when 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes by the newly formed Israeli government.

Between March 30 and May 4, gunfire from the Israeli military had already caused 2,842 injuries, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza. During that time, first responders used makeshift tourniquets that prevented loss of life but also led to unnecessary blood loss.


Dr. Loubani and his team arrived in Gaza with 350 prototype tourniquets on May 11, dividing them across days and locations. On May 11, 10 tourniquets were used on patients that met the necessary criteria. Loubani writes that three tourniquets failed and seven worked.


The doctor attributes the failures in part to the conditions under which the medical team worked: “In the field, we were trying to put tourniquets on patients while literally running, under live fire, being teargassed, or occasionally all three. This was suboptimal.” Other issues with the deployed devices included the fact that the package design may have been confusing, the use of a prototype model prone to internal belt failure, and an unexpected buckle failure.

The caption via Dr. Loubani’s blog: “Top: Recovered windlass of old model used on patient that failed catastrophically. Note sharp edge in belt slot. Bottom: New model. Note curved edges.” (Image courtesy of Glia.)
The caption via Dr. Loubani’s blog: “Top: Recovered windlass of old model used on patient that failed catastrophically. Note sharp edge in belt slot. Bottom: New model. Note curved edges.” (Image courtesy of Glia.)

After testing, all tourniquet models prone to failure were removed from use for subsequent days in the field. In all, 100 tourniquets were brought to the protest area each day on May 14 and May 15, and 78 were used on patients who met the criteria. This time, there were no device failures.

However, in addition to the many other injuries and deaths that occurred during the protests, 19 members of the medical team, wearing either high visibility fluorescent jackets or medical green tops and bottoms, were injured, including Dr. Loubani himself, with one being killed by Israeli gunfire. Dr. Loubani provides a graphic recount of the incident here.


While Dr. Loubani was comparatively lucky, suffering a “moderate” bullet wound to his left leg and a “minor” wound to the right knee, many others were not so fortunate. The most recent statistics estimate that 2,800 Palestinians were wounded and 61 killed during the May 15 protests.

Loubani will continue his work providing much-needed medical technology to the people of Gaza, thanks in part to funding from the Shuttleworth Foundation, the Division of Emergency Medicine at the London Health Sciences Centre (EMLondon), and the Faculty of Medicine at University of Western Ontario. 

You can read Dr. Loubani’s harrowing accounts here and here. You can learn more about the Glia Project here.

Recommended For You