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Winnipeg-born inventor being inducted into hall of fame
WINNIPEG -- A Winnipegger who created the automatic tourniquet system -- now used in surgeries all over the world -- is being inducted into the U.S.-based National Inventors Hall of Fame.
James McEwen, who was born in Winnipeg but currently lives in British Columbia, will be one of 22 people to be inducted as part of the class of 2020.
His tourniquet system, which helps limit blood flow during surgery, is now used in roughly 20,000 surgeries every day.
The creation is credited with significantly improving surgical safety, quality and economy.
McEwen said he couldn't believe that he was being inducted.
"Well I was thrilled, I mean looking at the list of people who have already been inducted. I was phoned by the fella who invented the camera that's in all cellphones," said McEwen. "I was working at the Vancouver General Hospital, running their biomedical engineering department and a surgeon came and said, ‘You know.’"
He said his creation started with an injury that occurred at the Vancouver General Hospital, where he was head of the biomedical engineering department.
He said a surgeon came and spoke with him.
“One of his patients came out of fracture repair surgery with limb paralysis and that shouldn't have happened," McEwen recalls. "So that got me on the trail of -- why was that patient injured? What could be done to prevent it?"
McEwen, who has an electrical engineering background, said he had a lot of solutions looking for a problem to apply them to.
Nowadays, McEwen adds his invention has become common use for surgeries.
"Almost every time you have surgery on a limb, an arm or a leg, a tourniquet is used. The idea is to stop blood flow into the limb safely so that the surgery can proceed."
Knowing that so many people have benefitted from using his invention, McEwen notes it’s a great feeling.
His ideas haven't stopped there though, as he is currently working on a new project, along with an engineering student and a few others.
"We're looking at ways in which we can use tourniquets, to not stop blood flow, like you do in surgery, but to limit or restrict blood flood for accelerating rehab after surgery or after injury."
McEwen adds several different organizations are using his newest invention, including more than 100 pro sports teams.
McEwen will be officially inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in May.
-With files from CTV’s Maralee Caruso