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MIT is testing an emergency, US$100 ventilator (regular ones cost up to US$ 50k)

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MIT’s test of an emergency ventilator based on an Ambu-Bag
[HT: MIT, fair use; highlight added]

As MIT suggests,

Almost every bed in a hospital has a manual resuscitator (Ambu-Bag) nearby, available in the event of a rapid response or code where healthcare workers maintain oxygenation by squeezing the bag. Automating this appears to be the simplest strategy that satisfies the need for low-cost mechanical ventilation, with the ability to be rapidly manufactured in large quantities. However, doing this safely is not trivial.

Use of a bag-valve mask (BVM) in emergency situations is not a new concept. A portable ventilator utilizing an ambu-bag was introduced in 2010 by a student team in the MIT class 2.75 Medical Device Design (original paper here and news story here), but did not move past the prototype stage. Around the same time, a team from Stanford developed a lower-cost ventilator for emergency stockpiles and the developing world. It looks similar to a modern ICU ventilator (Onebreath), but “production for US hospitals would start [in] about 11 months”, making it “a second wave solution” (MIT Tech Review Article). Last year, the AMBU® Bag concept was re-visited by two student teams, one from Rice university (here & here), and another Boston-based team who won MIT Sloan’s Healthcare prize (MIT News: Umbilizer). Other teams currently working on this challenge can be found linked on our “Additional Resources” page.

If this works, it can be a game changer on the ventilator crisis. Obviously, it does not replace normal ventilators but it would be rapidly deployable in logistically significant quantities.

Where, it is based on common technology, it simply mechanises what a health care worker would do.

Again, a point of hope. END

18 Replies to “MIT is testing an emergency, US$100 ventilator (regular ones cost up to US$ 50k)

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    MIT is testing an emergency, US$100 ventilator (regular ones cost up to US$ 50k)

  2. 2
    kairosfocus says:

    Of course on other fronts, efforts are underway to mobilise manufacture of more conventional ventilators in quantity. KF

  3. 3
    Seversky says:

    This is excellent, just the sort of inventiveness and ingenuity that is needed. If it passes the tests, they need to get it into production asap/

  4. 4
    daveS says:

    More power to them if it works.

    I don’t know anything about any of this, but I’m surprised that we’re seeing so many of these contraptions emerging that look like something a guy or gal could put together in their garage in a weekend. Why don’t they already exist, at least for emergency/temporary use, when “real” ventilators are so scarce and expensive?

  5. 5
    Jim Thibodeau says:

    Teamwork between Ford and GE is going to lead to the production of dozens of thousands of ventilators of a proven design. I trust that way more than I would trust this hacked together contraption. Anybody remember the hundred dollar MIT laptop? Most people haven’t heard of it because it was a piece of crap.

  6. 6
    Truthfreedom says:

    @5 Jim Thibodeau
    How much does a physical mind have to weight to become effective/ commit no mistakes?
    The Nobel Prize is awaiting you. 🙂

  7. 7
    daveS says:

    Thanks, Dean_from_Ohio, that makes sense.

  8. 8
    kairosfocus says:

    JT, please, read the details. The “Ambu-Bag” is in common use in hospitals and ambulances. It is normally manually pumped by a health worker. What is being investigated by engineers and health professionals in MIT and elsewhere is how to automate the pumping. In a context where a standard unit costs up to US$ 50k, such a development allows distribution of hundreds of thousands of units as a first stage, both in advanced countries and across the 2/3rds world. I would therefore suggest that moderating your dismissive tone is advisable. KF

  9. 9
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, it seems that the knowing when and how to pump is nontrivial. That suggests sophisticated control and sensors to guide it. These days with ARM processors in every smart phone, that is different from earlier days, but it looks like an AI or something close is likely to be involved. KF

  10. 10
    daveS says:

    KF,

    Interesting. So perhaps it’s only recently that a garage-built ventilator with off-the-shelf parts has become feasible.

  11. 11
    kairosfocus says:

    DS, MIT is no garage, and the management of the process is by their acknowledgement ticklish. You have to register to see their detailed specs, but click on the link in the OP. KF

  12. 12
    daveS says:

    KF,

    Obviously MIT isn’t a garage, but I’ve seen a lot of discussion from amateurs (in the non-prejorative sense) about their proposals for ventilator construction. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just that I don’t see non-specialists talking about crowd-sourcing ideas for sophisticated medical equipment every day.

  13. 13
    Jim Thibodeau says:

    The numbers I’ve seen are $400-$500.

  14. 14
    kairosfocus says:

    JT, I have seen PC’s for US$ 70 and I have seen for over US$10,000, where other computers are in the US$ millions class. Looking at units by Airon, similar to what Ford and GE are setting out to mass produce, I can believe US$ 400 – 500 for those. The mere existence of the Ambu-Bag suggests that the typical ICU unit would be expensive . . . I hardly think they would think twice about buying a US$ 500 unit. KF

  15. 15
    jawa says:

    Cold War 2.0 is over:

    Coronavirus: Russia sends plane full of medical supplies to US

    https://amp.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/01/coronavirus-russia-sends-plane-full-of-medical-supplies-to-us

  16. 16
    kairosfocus says:

    Jawa, maybe. Somebody has been watching James Bond. KF

  17. 17
    jawa says:

    “Somebody has been watching James Bond.”

    🙂

  18. 18
    kairosfocus says:

    From Russia with love

    Tsar Vlad has style

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