Pittsburgh Nonprofit First in U.S. to Recover, Redirect Hospital Surplus to Communities in Need

Photo credit: Global Links

Lives Over Landfills.  In 1989, three young women in Pittsburgh had a big idea:  to meet critical medical supply needs in countries suffering the effects of poverty, natural disasters, political unrest and other conditions by capturing and redirecting the vast tonnage of surplus material dumped by U.S. hospitals each year.


Pediatric scale provided by Global Links: Los Chiles Maternal Home, Nicaragua.  Photo credit:  Global Links

The nonprofit that they founded, Global Links, became the first organization in the United States with a mission to recover and strategically reuse surplus hospital supplies that would otherwise make their way to landfills.  With the assistance of a vast team of Pittsburgh volunteers, Global Links collects and donates items ranging from sutures, surgical tools, bandages and gloves to exam tables, beds, IV poles, crutches, wheelchairs and more, all of which would have been discarded.   It remains a national leader in the field, partnering with hospitals throughout the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region and working with hospitals, doctors and clinics in the Caribbean and Central and South America, including Nicaragua, Cuba, Bolivia, Guatemala, Honduras, and more.


Refurbished wheelchairs at Global Links international headquarters ready for shipment. Photo credit: Erin. M. Jones

In doing so, they are saving lives while keeping more than 300 tons of healthcare materials from entering our landfills each year.

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An international medical relief organization dedicated to saving lives and improving health in resource-poor communities. Global Links collects surplus but still-useable medical equipment and materials that would otherwise be discarded and redirects it to those lacking access to critical supplies, including countries enduring long-term suffering in the aftermath of natural disasters.

Global Links collaborates with U.S. healthcare institutions and the community to recover hundreds of tons of high-quality surplus medical materials every year that would otherwise be thrown away. These materials, which range from sutures, surgical tools, bandages and gloves to exam tables, beds, IV poles, crutches, wheelchairs and more, are collected and shared with doctors, hospitals and clinics that care for their country’s most vulnerable people.

Global Links stops 300 tons of healthcare materials from entering our landfills each year and since  1989, has delivered over $190 million in critical medical aid through collaborative programs, with 45 hospitals in the Mid-Atlantic region now participating in Global Links’ recovery program.  The bulk of donations go to improve healthcare conditions in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Honduras, Haiti, Cuba, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Bolivia.

Global Links also donates materials to Pittsburgh nonprofits and supports international medical service trips initiated by local medical professionals.  In 2015 alone medical surplus was distributed to organizations such as Operation Safety Net, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, and Cancer Caring Center, as well as several women’s support and recovery agencies, among others.

Special Programs also include:

  • Breathe Hope enables parents and healthcare institutions to donate used but still useable nebulizers (breathing machines) to asthma sufferers – particularly children – in Central and South America and the Caribbean who do not have easy access to breathing treatments, as well as charity clinics in the U.S. serving uninsured/underinsured children and seniors.
  • Suture Donations provide critically need suture supplies to countries in which sutures are prohibitively expensive and often hard to come by. When supply is short, doctors are forced to ration suture or use fishing line and often must cancel surgeries, putting lives at risk.
  • Save Your Scrubs makes it possible for healthcare workers to donate gently worn and new scrubs to workers in countries where scrubs are in short supply or are too costly. Sanitary medical uniforms not only help prevent the spread of disease, they signify to patients and visitors that their care provider is a medical professional.

More information at


Kathleen Hower, Executive Director, Co-Founder

Main Global Links Phone Number: (412) 361-3424