Tested by Denver-area physicians and distributed by Project C.U.R.E., downloadable ventilator splitter design allows anyone with a 3D printer to make a potentially lifesaving part for their local hospital
Denver, April 08, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Most estimates show the U.S. has fewer than 100,000 mechanical ventilators nationwide, but nearly 10 times that number may be needed to treat the victims of COVID-19. Kevin Low of Gecko Robotics has designed ventilator splitters that can be printed on 3D printers that allow one ventilator to be used by two, three. or four patients simultaneously, potentially quadrupling the number of ventilators available for those most severely impacted by COVID-19.
“The ICU/respiratory team at a Denver-area hospital has put this design to the test and given it the green light, confirming a single ventilator is strong enough to ventilate either two or four patients simultaneously. This is definitely a last resort device. But it could help our doctors on the front line not have to make the choice between who gets a ventilator, and who dies ” said Jeremy Irwin, CEO of Denver’s Agency Zero, who is spearheading a communications effort to distribute printable plans at https://makersunite.co/. Irwin is part of a small group of people who quickly had the prototype tested, designed the website and are leading communication and distribution efforts. “Rather than feeling helpless, Chris Seighman, Michele Irwin and I decided to make this idea available as broadly as possible, and tap into the manufacturing power of the thousands of makers that have 3D printers at home”
There are two ways to provide these parts to hospitals. Owners of 3D printers may contact hospitals directly or Project C.U.R.E., a Colorado-based nonprofit that identifies, solicits, collects, sorts and distributes medical supplies and services globally, is also accepting printed splitters for distribution.
On March 24, Denise M. Hinton, chief scientist of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), issued guidance on such parts, stating, “I am authorizing the emergency use of … ventilator tubing connectors, and ventilator accessories.” (Complete letter can be found here.)
The impact of this project can be substantial and immediate — an estimated 140,000 industrial and more than 2 million consumer 3D printers have been sold worldwide.
“While makers are welcome to contact a local hospital and print splitters directly, we’re also available to reach out to our extensive network of hospitals and match 3D printer owners to hospitals that can use the part,” said Douglas Jackson, CEO of Project C.U.R.E. “These can be used by hospitals in the U.S., where ventilators are in short supply, and around the world, where there is often not enough electricity to power multiple units.”
Ventilators help patients who cannot breathe without help by pumping air into their lungs through a tube inserted into their windpipes. Because COVID-19 affects the respiratory system, the need for this treatment has dramatically increased in the last few weeks. While doctors concur that sharing ventilators is not ideal, this potential crisis situation means this solution could provide an option when there are not enough ventilators for the critically ill patients who need them.
Those with 3D printers available can visit https://makersunite.co/ for more information, to find a hospital in need or to download the files for printing. Makers can also contact Project C.U.R.E. via their website at https://projectcure.org.
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