Using a ventilator splitter is never option 1. Its a last resort option, when a patient desperately needs a ventilator and you don’t have one to offer. Covid-19 has placed us in such a situation.
In order for a ventilator splitter to actually be adopted at a time of need, a physician in an ICU needs to understand how it works and make the decision to use it. This cannot happen till we have an open dialog with physicians, demo the splitter to them, answer their questions, incorporate it into our design, and help them get access to splitters.
Our original plan was to mail the splitter across India and get feedback. But given curfew, we are doing the next best thing: a live session for doctors to learn about the splitter and give feedback. Details of Facebook session are below.
Title: Getting Ready for Covid-19 Surge: Demo of Prototype Ventilator Splitter
Session led by: Dr. Sonal Asthana, Dr. Prakash Doraiswamy & Dr. Arun Ventakaraman of CMI Aster Hospital, Bangalore
Session Description: The doctors at CMI Aster Hospital have been 3D printing and testing a prototype ventilator splitter. Original design is from here. They have further refined it with valves to adjust flow for individual patients, and to stop cross contamination. They will demo the splitter, discuss its usage, how you can 3D print it on your own, or get access in other ways.
There will also be a question / answer session where you will have a chance to ask questions.
Ventilators are complicated, expensive machines. But there’s a simple design that doesn’t have a lot of moving parts and doesn’t even use electricity. Disposable gas operated ventilators might be mass produceable in a large enough volume to serve during the Covid19 surge.
In the US there is the Go2Vent from Vortran (more than meets the eye!). In India there is the SureVent, which is also for sale as an unbranded version by a unit of Bajaj Life Care. Strangely, the product sells for $90 in the US and approximately $270 in India.
If either of these companies could scale up production it would definitely help to cope with the surge. Alternatively, if an open-source group could reverse engineer these devices and release CAD files for a similar product it would allow distributed production of these devices by people with 3D printers. Definitely a promising approach!
This is a great effort because a)it still works even if the hospital is out of ventilators (CPAP machines are cheap and plentiful in most western countries) and b)It uses a commercially available, manufactured item as the base, so only a few bits and bobs need to be 3D printed. Notice how fast they were able to ship 100 units to the local hospital!
As country after country goes through Covid upsurges, its clear that one of the biggest ways of saving lives in this pandemic are ventilators.
Even in the best times there is shortage of ventilators in Indians hospitals. During Covid upsurges this problem will be compounded. How to increase ventilatory capacity in a country like India where you cannot spend much on the problem, and order a huge new batch of ventilators.
After thinking about it, we decided to take a three pronged approach to the problem.
Use 3D printing to print ad hoc parts: Due to supply chain having broken down, its been hard to get parts recently. As a case in Italy showed, local 3D printing resources can help with this. We did a test experiment (see more here).
3D print ventilator splitters: Splitting ventilator has been reported in disaster scenarios before. We are working on a prototype splitter.
3D printing a small ventilator
Project Vayu was started by Dr. Sonal Asthana of Aster CMI hospital in Bangalore, in collaboration with his colleagues at the hospital. It is being in collaboration with Jon Boutelle, Rashmi Sinha & Amit Ranjan who are helping provide support for the project.