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As the hospitals around the world face a daunting shortage of lifesaving ventilators with the rapid spread of Coronavirus, a team at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) called MIT E-Vent has developed a low-cost ventilator design.

The team has open sourced the design of the simple ventilator device that could be built with about just $100 worth of parts.

As the team explains: “The key to the simple, inexpensive ventilator alternative is a hand-operated plastic pouch called a bag-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, until an intervention such as a ventilator becomes available.”

A tube is inserted into the patient’s airway, as with a hospital ventilator, but then the pumping of air into the lungs is done by squeezing and releasing the flexible pouch. This is a task for skilled personnel, trained in how to evaluate the patient and adjust the timing and pressure of the pumping accordingly.

“We are releasing design guidance (clinical, mechanical, electrical/controls, testing) on a rolling basis as it is developed and documented,” one team member said. “We encourage capable clinical-engineering teams to work with their local resources, while following the main specs and safety information, and we welcome any input other teams may have.”

MIT E-Vent (for emergency ventilator) team was formed on March 12 in response to the rapid spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.


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