Alex Hannenberg

Alex.Hanneberg_SCW.002 Name: Dr Alex Hannenberg

Role: Lifebox USA Trustee 


How does it feel to have more than 50,000 friends in the US?  Lifebox® is lucky enough to know!  The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is one of the biggest and most powerful professional membership societies in the country, and one of our founding MAKE IT 0® supporters.

Thanks to the generosity of ASA members, and leadership from their Global Humanitarian Outreach (GHO) committee, we’ve been able to deliver our safe surgery programmes across Central and Southern America – from Guatemala to Honduras, through El Salvador to Nicaragua and beyond. Since our debut in Chicago at ANESTHESIOLOGY 2011, we’ve returned each year to the ASA’s annual meeting, catching up with friends and making new ones, showcasing our joint work and making plans for the safer surgery future.

We’re also exceptionally lucky to have ASA past president, safer anaesthesia advocate (and excellent chef) Dr Alexander Hannenberg as one of our Lifebox USA trustees.

We recently caught up with him, and this is what we learned.

Given your long standing support of Lifebox, what motivated you to get involved?

The obvious appeal with Lifebox is that it is feasible. Pulse oximetry, and with it, safer anaesthesia for all are achievable goals.

Lifebox is a charitable organisation that is exquisitely aligned with the profession of anaesthesiology and is embraced by anaesthesiologists around the world.

I became aware of the global oximetry project and the AAGBI and WFSA’s commitment to it whilst in my role as president of the ASA in 2010-11. Being in this position enabled me to steer the ASA towards a contribution to safer surgery in low resource countries.

What is the role of anaesthesia in safer surgery?

Avoidable mortality from anaesthesia is a major contributor to excess risk of surgery.  In turn, hypoxemic events represent a large component of that mortality and the pulse oximeter is the indispensable tool for recognition and management of these events.

You’ve lead a number of fundraising activities for Lifebox. How do you find the time to balance these along with your career?

As the saying goes, busy people have the most time! If you have passion for something, the time appears.

Raising the profile of safer surgery within global health is enriching both for the ASA and Lifebox.

What has been your most successful fundraising activity/event to date?

The Residents Lifebox® Challenge has been a great success in terms of funds raised, as well as in terms of introducing anesthesiologists to the organisation’s work early on in their careers.  This has been a growing part of the ASA Charitable Foundation’s campaign for Lifebox and one of which I’m very proud.

I also enjoy the benefit concert we’ve held at Newton-Wellesley Hospital over the last two years. It’s so much fun and enables anaesthetists to showcase their musical talents whilst raising funds (over $5,000 each time) for a worthy cause – and has the fringe benefit of being a terrific team-building event.