BOSTON — One of the most pressing shortages hospitals are facing during the COVID-19 emergency is a lack of ventilators.
These machines can keep patients breathing when they no longer can on their own.
Now, a group of engineers, physicians and computer scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are posting plans online for an inexpensive alternative that could be built quickly around the world.
The team called MIT E-VENT, which stands for an emergency ventilator, was formed in response to the pandemic.
It's a revived project an MIT class had been working on a decade ago and now they've resumed that work at a highly accelerated pace.
These students and local physicians designed a simple ventilator device built with about $100 worth of parts while a new ventilator costs around $30,000.
The key to the simple, inexpensive ventilator alternative is a hand-operated plastic pouch called a bab-valve resuscitator or Ambu bag, which hospitals already have on hand in large quantities.
These are designed to be operated by hand, by a medical professional or emergency technician to provide breaths to a patient in situations like cardiac arrest.
The MIT team is devising a mechanical system to do the squeezing and releasing of the Ambu bag so it doesn't have to be operated manually.
Despite the simplified plans, the MIT team says this is not a DIY-project.
They say clinical knowledge and expertise with the hardware involved is necessary and the devices must be manufactured according to FDA requirements.
You can find more information about their plans here.
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