SOURCE: International Anesthesia Research Society

International Anesthesia Research Society - Anesthesia and Analgesia

March 17, 2010 06:00 ET

International Anesthesia Research Society Award Winner Leads Humanitarian Project in Ghana

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - March 17, 2010) - The International Anesthesia Research Society announced Medge Owen, MD, Professor of Obstetric Anesthesia at Wake Forest University and Founder of Kybele, Inc, as their 2009 Teaching Recognition Award Winner for Innovation in Education, honoring her humanitarian efforts to improve childbirth conditions in third world countries. Dr. Owen has traveled extensively to developing nations, creating geo-specific educational programs in obstetric anesthesia and neonatal resuscitation.

Most recently, Dr. Owen partnered with Ridge Hospital in Accra, Ghana where she helped the urban hospital reduce its maternal mortality and preventable still birth rates by over 30 percent. Since partnering with Kybele, Ridge Hospital has introduced computers and sonogram techniques, and surgical areas are closely approaching western standards.

Many hospitals in Ghana and other third-world countries do not have enough basic supplies or sufficiently-educated staff to offer their patients a safe and pain-free childbirth experience. In Ghana alone, one in 50 maternal patients will not survive the birth of their child, a staggering rate in comparison to the U.S. rate, one in 5,000.

Expectant mothers face labor without access to spinal blocks or pain medication, and in many cases, air conditioning and running water. Labor wards are crowded with patients, sometimes six to eight mothers giving birth in the same room.

"Women are afraid to go to the hospital," said Dr. Owen. "They are afraid they will never come out."

In 2001, Dr. Owen founded Kybele (, a non-profit organization with the mission to offer every mother and newborn the opportunity to experience birth in a safe, respectful and supportive environment. Kybele assesses the local supplies of each country and designs specific childbirth protocols, including the administration of regional anesthetics. By working with local doctors and midwives within the country's existing infrastructure, the organization can implement techniques that are both effective and self-sustaining.

"The goal is to teach the local doctors and midwives how to save lives during childbirth," said Owen. "We want to empower people locally by teaching them the tools and techniques to sustain progressive programs."

"It is an honor to celebrate Dr. Owen's work in Ghana," said Robert N. Sladen, MD, Chair of the IARS Board of Trustees. "The IARS mission is to improve patient care worldwide not only by stimulating and advancing scientific research, but also educating and disseminating knowledge. Dr. Owen exemplifies this mission."

About the IARS

The IARS is a non-political medical society founded in 1922 to advance and support anesthesia research and education. The IARS contributes more than $1 million annually to fund anesthesia research and provides a forum for leaders in anesthesia research to share information and ideas. The Society publishes the Anesthesia & Analgesia journal in print and online. For complete information about the IARS and its programs, visit the IARS website at

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Corey Mosier
    Awards Manager
    International Anesthesia Research Society
    100 Pine Street, Suite 230
    San Francisco, CA 94111