Washington, DC: An Indian-American couple has developed a low-cost portable emergency ventilator which is soon to hit the production stage and will be available in India and the developing world to help doctors deal with the COVID-19 patients.
Prompted by the lack of adequate ventilators during the coronavirus pandemic, Devesh Ranjan, a professor and associate chair in the prestigious Georgia Tech’s George W Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering and his wife Kumuda Ranjan, a practising family physician in Atlanta, developed the emergency ventilator from concept to prototype in just about three weeks’ time.
“If you can do manufacturing of scale, it can be produced (item cost) in less than $100. Even with a price point of $500, they (the manufacturer) would have enough money to make sure that they are making enough profit in the market,” Professor Devesh Ranjan told PTI.
He said a ventilator of this type, on an average in the US, costs $10,000.
A ventilator takes over the body’s breathing process when a disease has caused the lungs to fail. This gives the patient time to fight off the infection and recover. Devesh Ranjan, however, clarified that theirs is not an ICU ventilator, which is more sophisticated and costs more.
This Open-AirVentGT has been developed to address acute respiratory distress syndrome, a common complication for COVID-19 patients which causes their lungs to stiffen, requiring their breathing to be assisted by ventilators, he said.
The ventilator developed at the Georgia Institute of Technology uses electronic sensors and computer control to manage key clinical parameters such as respiration rate, tidal volume (the amount of air moved into and out of the lungs during each cycle), inspiration and expiration ratio, and pressure on the lungs.
“The whole goal of this project was to make a low-cost makeshift ventilator that gives those controls to the physician,” Dr Kumuda Ranjan told PTI, noting that there is going to be a global shortage of ventilator given the massive spread of coronavirus, which so far has killed more than 345,000 people globally and infected over 5.4 million.
Born and brought up in Patna, Bihar, Devesh Ranjan earned his degree in engineering from Regional Engineering College, Trichy followed by Masters and PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has been teaching at Georgia Tech for the last six years.
Kumuda Ranjan moved with her parents to the US from Ranchi when she was six. She did her medical training and residency in New Jersey.
Both Devesh Ranjan and Kumuda Ranjan said that India had the potential to become global manufacturing of low-cost ventilators and export across the world at a rate that is affordable to all.
Professor Devesh Ranjan said that the low-cost ventilator has been developed keeping in mind the requirements of countries like India and those in Africa, where the affordability care is a very big factor in providing healthcare to the people.
The idea was to develop a lost cost ventilator, which can be manufactured very easily using the already available supply chain in India, he said.
Rajan said that the team has been approached by Georgia Tech alumni in Ghana and India to set up manufacturing lines in their countries.
The prototype is now being developed into a real product by Singapore-based Renew Group, headed by Ravi Sajwan, an Indian-American from Uttarakhand.