U of I builds new emergency ventilator prototype

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FILE – This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the virus that causes COVID-19. The sample was isolated from a patient in the U.S. Some political leaders are hailing a potential breakthrough in the fight against COVID-19: simple pin-prick blood tests or nasal swabs that can determine within minutes if someone has, or previously had, the virus. But some scientists have challenged their accuracy. (NIAID-RML via AP)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill (NEXSTAR) — Hospitals across the state are lacking proper equipment to deal with the Coronavirus.

Personal protective equipment and ventilators are few and far between. But the University of Illinois College of Engineering might have a breakthrough that could fix the problem. 

They are calling it their Apollo 13 moment. A new emergency ventilator prototype that could soon be in hospitals across the state.

“This is a device that could be rapidly deployed,” Bill King, a University of Illinois engineering professor on the project said. “It is a simple device. It’s suitable for emergency situations where a regular hospital ventilator is not available.”

A team of 40 University of Illinois professors and medical professionals and physicians from Carle Hospital did what they thought was impossible.

They were able to build an emergency ventilator in just a week.

The prototype works very well,” King said. “So far it has run for 75 hours straight, and more than 125 thousand breathing cycles. It is staggering what this group of individuals has been able to do.”

The team has only been working on the product for a couple of weeks, but if all goes as planned, the emergency ventilator could be mass-produced sooner rather than later. All it needs now is FDA approval.

The IMA is now working with the University of Illinois and some of our medical device manufacturers to see if this can be produced in Illinois and be used in hospitals across Illinois and across the United States,” Mark Denzler, President of the Illinois Manufacturers Association said.

The University is partnered with the Illinois Manufacturers Association.

Factories across Illinois are already committed to building the supplies to keep hospitals running, and if that happens, it could change the game for hospitals moving forward against COVID-19.

“At that moment where we all saw it worked, it was such a moment of joy and excitement and shared experience for our team,” King said. “It was really amazing.”

The group now will take the prototype to clinical trials.

If it makes it through clinical trials, then it can get FDA approval and be ready for production.

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