The world has not seen anything like the Coronavirus pandemic in a long time. More and more people are getting afflicted, and more deaths are being reported. All over the globe, doctors are doing their best to help those infected with the virus, risking their own lives to try to save others. But the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), and essential devices such as ventilators are making their jobs more difficult.
There is a group of Italian engineers that are turning simple scuba masks into ventilators to help hospitals treat the sickest Coronavirus patients. These ingenious young Italians have previously saved lives by replicating expensive ventilator valves using 3D printing. Italy is the hardest hit by the pandemic, with the most deaths from it in the world. Startup 3D printer business Isinnova has started making a 3D printer adapter capable of converting a snorkel mask into a functional C-PAP mask for oxygen therapy. This is essential for severe cases of COVID-19 patients.With the growing number of Italians being afflicted by the virus, doctors and hospitals have to prioritize their supply of ventilators, there just is not enough for everyone.
Head physician Renato Favero of the Gardone Valtrompia Hospital came up with the scuba mask idea, and contacted the team from Isinnova. In turn, the team contacted sports chain Decathlon to see if they could use their “Easybreath” snorkelling mask in the project. Sure enough, Decathlon was immediately willing to cooperate, thank goodness for good Samaritans. Isinnova CEO Christian Fracassi explained that Dr. Favero shared the idea with them to address the shortage of supply of hospital C-PAP masks.
“It’s the construction of an emergency ventilator mask, realised by adjusting a snorkelling mask already available on the market,” Fracassi further said.
A 3D printer prototype was first tested on hospital staff to make sure it worked properly before it was used successfully for the first patient that needed it.
But, the inventors stressed that it should only be used in emergency situations. “We are reiterating that the idea is designed for healthcare facilities and wants to help in the realization of an emergency mask in the case of a full-blown difficult situation, where it is not possible to find official healthcare supplies Neither the mask nor the link are certified and their use is subject to a situation of mandatory need.” Also mentioned was that the patient must sign a declaration of acceptance for the uncertified biomedical device.
The inventors made sure that people realize that the patent will be free to use for all hospitals and healthcare centers. “We clarify that our initiative is totally non-profit, we will not obtain any royalties on the idea of the link, nor on the sales of the Decathlon masks.” The link valve is called the Charlotte valve, and they shared the file for 3D printing so that others may print it correctly. Sometimes the worst situations bring out the best in people. Surely the team of Isinnova is doing their best to help, and Italy is blessed to have them.
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