How Dr. Lee Ponsky built an organization that saves lives every day

Dr. Lee Ponsky, founder, MedWish International

Dr. Lee Ponsky could not stand by and do nothing. He had just returned from a trip to Nigeria and watched as doctors used empty bread bags for surgical gloves and fishing line for stitches, putting patients at great risk during otherwise routine surgical procedures.

Ponsky discovered hospitals discard more than 2 million tons of medical surplus every year, including a whole lot of medical supplies and equipment that can’t be used due to strict regulations in the United States. These items would be of great benefit, however, to the people of Nigeria and other places where clean supplies are so scarce. He just needed a way to redirect the surplus to these people whose lives could be saved.

MedWish International was founded by Ponsky in 1993 to do just that. His goal was to create a non-profit organization that could facilitate the recovery and repurposing of otherwise wasted medical supplies and equipment. He founded MedWish in his parents’ garage just prior to beginning medical school at Case Western Reserve University.

The organization, which Ponsky leads as president, has grown quite a bit from those humble beginnings. MedWish now has a 38,000 square-foot home and is saving lives around the world. Over the past five years, it has recovered over 2.2 million pounds of lifesaving medical supplies and equipment from over 50 U.S. hospitals and has shipped aid overseas to 90 countries since its inception.

Ponsky’s drive and determination is fueled by the opportunity to help people who really need it. He is confident that he can do even more and continue growing MedWish International’s reach to help more and more countries. His efforts have saved lives and at the same time, lessened the load on the landfills where these tools were destined to end up.

HOW TO REACH: MedWish International, (216) 692-1685 or www.medwish.org

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