MIT: The DIY Ventilator

Writer: Ryan Ewart

Editor: Emily Rapp 

During times of uncertainty, it is easy to focus on the bad news. Opening up google can lead to a rabbit hole of COVID-19. However, MIT’s brightest have been hard at work to make these hospitals and healthcare professionals a little bit safer, with their new E-Vent. 

As many of you know, one of our greatest shortages is our lack of ventilators. Ventilators are a tool used by hospitals to keep patient breathing properly. The ventilator takes over the patient’s respiratory system to give them time to fight off the infection and recover from said infection. With the coronavirus, these machines become crucial.

However, these machines cost money. A lot of money. According to Medtronic, a major supplier of the product, the ventilators cost anywhere between $25,000 to $50,000. With an estimate of ten percent of people with COVID-19 needing ventilators, the demand for the product is very high. But that’s where MIT steps in. Their job was to create a cost-efficient emergency ventilator that could be mass-produced and easily distributed to hospitals and medical facilities across the world. 

And the mission was a success. The group of doctors and engineers found a way to make a version of the modern-day ventilator for a meer 100 dollars. This is virtually nothing compared to the $35,000 one currently in use. The group is calling it the E-Vent, for an emergency ventilator. The product is currently in its FDA approval stage but will be in use as soon as possible. 

In the US alone, the COVID-19 pandemic may cause ventilator shortages on the order of 300,000-700,000 units,” says MIT’s website on the matter. “These E-Vents could be present on a national scale within weeks, and are already being tested in certain areas.”

According to the above quote, these new ventilators could be in hospitals in a matter of weeks, and could just be the breakthrough that we need to get over this pandemic. But what makes the new E-Vents so special? How does this new model make itself so much cheaper than it’s older models? Well, while the previous versions had a fully automated process, the E-Vent has a squeezable bag-valve resuscitator that hospitals have on the ready, and a long tube to go down the patient’s airway, similar to a normal ventilator. The bag is hooked up to the system to give the patient the proper amount of oxygen into the lungs. Really all the machines is a system to hold the pouch and the tube. It will, however, be needed to be monitored by a skilled professional. 

“I think what they are doing at MIT is a huge step in the right direction,” says freshman Jackson Leck. “I hope the E-Vent gets put in use very soon.” 

The MIT team has decided to stay anonymous, as the risk of publicity is always a great one. Needless to say, the names of our healthcare heroes will remain unknown until further notice. 

We are currently in unprecedented times, where bad news seems to appear everywhere at every time. It is hard to find the light while covered in darkness. But there are always good people that do good things. Focus on that. Stay inside, stay safe.

 

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