Mechanical neonatal ventilators can cost tens of thousands of dollars each, a price that’s out of reach for many impoverished areas of the world. Premature babies and those born with breathing conditions often desperately need these lifesaving devices to get through the most difficult early weeks. To improve access to neonatal ventilation, students at Brigham Young University developed a basic, stripped down ventilator that can be manufactured for around $500.
It still requires to be tested, but the NeoLife device performs the essential duties of a ventilator, mixing air and oxygen using intuitive switches, allowing to set the breathing rate and inspiratory time, and optionally operating as a standard continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine.
Some details from BYU:
To come up with a device that performs all the vital functions of a regular ventilator but for 80 times less the cost, the students stripped down all the bells and whistles and focused on the most necessary components. That meant fitting a custom circuit board, an air pump, solenoid, pressure control valves and air flow valves into housing not much bigger than a shoe box.
The students engineered the device entirely on their own—including the complicated printed circuit board that can be mass-produced at a small cost.
(hat tip: Gizmodo)