How can we use our medical device expertise to join the worldwide fight against COVID-19 and make a real difference? The global pandemic has highlighted the desperate need for acute ventilators as stretched intensive care units struggle to meet overwhelming demand. One radical solution is to enable a ventilator to assist two patients, not just one. The big challenge of ventilator splitting, however, is that patients have varying requirements for air pressure, flow and volume, which cannot all be met using a single machine.
Working with a team from NUIG, led by Tim Jones and Jack Connolly, alongside Dr David Hannon and Professor John Laffey from Galway University Hospital, we collaborated to find a solution to this problem; potentially doubling world ventilator numbers to dramatically improve access to care and patient recovery.
In the fight against COVID-19, the scenario of not having enough ventilators to treat patients is a nightmare situation. A healthcare system becoming overwhelmed is an exponential threat to life. Some of the most advanced medical administrations in the world are estimated to be under-resourced by 30 to 50% due to the spike in ICU ventilator need and the problem in developing countries is even more profound. The Galway VentShare system is a way of addressing the need to have additional mechanical ventilators immediately available over the short to medium term. This critical-care focused invention is a means of extending existing ICU ventilator capacity if a national health system is overwhelmed due to a COVID-19 spike.
The system is available to all as an open-source system. The beauty of the VentShare solution is that all the components exist as medical-grade accessories and are freely available within most hospital settings. As such there is no time-consuming manufacturing or supply chain constraints. All that is required for rollout and implementation of the VentShare System is access to the component parts, combined with shared knowledge and know-how. Everything needed to set up the VentShare system is available at http://www.galwayventshare.com/
VentShare has been rigorously tested on sophisticated ICU ventilator systems and older anaesthetic machines. While intended to be used as a last resort, the invention is robust for use with ventilators capable of providing a pressure control mode. The project welcomes discussions with groups working on similar solutions to ensure the people on the front line of healthcare have the backup option in the worst-case scenarios.
The Galway VentShare was led by the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG) in partnership with: Galway University Hospitals, BioInnovate, Design Partners, Saolta, Intersurgical Ireland, App Design, Smart Sensors Lab, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT), Brandt Studios, Sharkey Consulting, Steris, Sensirion and Nickolay.