Ugandan doctor creates blood oxygen monitor

Friday October 02 2020
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Dr Jeofrey Kibuule (inset), a Ugandan scientist, who headed a team of software engineers at Apple Computers to create Blood Oxygen app, a blood oxygen saturation monitor. PHOTO/COURTESY

By Tony Mushoborozi

A Ugandan medical doctor living in the United States has whipped up quite a buzz in Silicon Valley, California, the tech capital of the world, after he created a revolutionary health app.
Dr  Jeofrey Kibuule, 31, headed a team of software engineers at Apple Computers to create Blood Oxygen app, a blood oxygen saturation monitor.  The app interfaces with the human body through the technological gizmos in the Apple Watch Series 6.

“During a blood oxygen measurement, the back crystal [under the wrist watch] shines red and green LEDs and infrared light onto your wrist. Photodiodes then measure the amount of light reflected back. Advanced algorithms use this data to calculate the colour of your blood. The colour determines your blood oxygen level — bright red blood has more oxygen, while dark red blood has less,” a statement on the Apple website reads.
The new app that was launched last week allows you “to measure the oxygen level of your blood on-demand directly from your wrist, providing you with insights into your overall wellness,” reads Apple’s description of the app.

The New York Times reported this week that the feature is particularly timely with the coronavirus, because some patients in critical condition with Covid-19 have had low blood oxygen levels.
Apple says measurements taken with the blood oxygen app are not intended for medical use and are only designed for general fitness and wellness purposes. It can check your oxygen levels all day, alerting you when you are running low so you can take a break and take a walk in the park for the sake of your own health.

The launch catapulted the young Ugandan-American doctor into the limelight, especially in the tech circles.
Dr Kibuule is passionate about both medicine and technology, and possesses the mental acuity to merge the two fields into simple medical solutions. This is not the first time that Dr Kibuule has developed a groundbreaking app in the medical field.

In 2011, when he was just 23 years old and still at medical school, he developed Pocket Lab Values, a lab reference app, that attempts to aid healthcare professionals by providing reference values to common lab tests. The app seeks to reduce the time that would otherwise be spent on diagnostics and increases the chances of accuracy of diagnoses.
“Experts in the tech industry seem to agree that Dr Kibuule’s passion for medicine and technology is destined to have a huge impact on solutions development. This is to improve delivery of health services in the burgeoning field of telemedicine,” the Wazatech article reads.

Dr Kibuule comes from a middle class family that boasts of four doctorates in a family of five. It is a classic above-average family. His father, retired Dr Pascal Mawanda Kibuule (PhD), is a physicist. His elder brother, Dr Leonard Kibuule, is an orthopeadic spine surgeon; one of the top 20 spine surgeons in the US today. His younger sister, Dr Grace N. Kibuule is currently pursuing residency in anesthesiology at the University of San Francisco, California.
Dr Kibuule clearly comes from a family of exceptionally clever and brainy people. So it doesn’t come as a surprise to learn that, at the tender age of 18, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Bsc) from the University of Texas at Austin. 

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By Press time, we had not managed to get in contact with the doctor cum software engineer. But according to press reports online, he is a very soft spoken young man with a knack for leadership. He has been working in Silicon Valley for the last five years.

Key terms
What is blood oxygen? Your blood oxygen level represents the percentage of oxygen your red blood cells carry from your lungs to the rest of your body. Knowing how well your blood performs is a vital task that can help you understand your overall wellness. Majority of people have a blood oxygen level of 95 to 99 per cent. However, some people live a normal life with blood oxygen levels below 95 per cent.

How the Blood Oxygen app works. With the help of Dr Kibuule, the Apple Watch Series 6, the optical heart sensor has been redesigned to add blood oxygen measurement capabilities. During a blood oxygen measurement, the back crystal shines red and green LEDs and infrared light onto your wrist. Photodiodes then measure the amount of light reflected back.

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