Helping the World Breathe Easier
By Susan Fry
If a pandemic flu struck the United States, more than 700,000 people could die simply because there wouldn't be enough ventilators to go around. The 62,274 ventilators in the country are already in high demand, and stockpiling more is impractical. Current models can cost up to $40,000. They're also difficult to maintain, hard to power and require highly trained personnel. The situation is even more dire in the developing world.
OneBreath could be the solution. Created by Matthew Callaghan and his team at the Stanford Biodesign program, this simplified—but fully functional—ventilator looks like a high-tech tool box. It's portable, easy to repair, battery powered and even reusable. The compact, triangular shape means it can be stored for emergencies, and the user-friendly buttons make it intuitive to use. OneBreath is also versatile—it's suitable for newborns, children or adults. The cost to hospitals? Only about $2,000.
OneBreath already has won recognition for its lifesaving potential. It was named one of Popular Science's "Inventions of the Year for 2010" and it took second place in the Biomedical Engineering Innovation, Design and Entrepreneurship Award (BMEidea) Competition.
Callaghan believes OneBreath will be ideal for everyday use in developing nations, too. "Everyone who needs a ventilator should have access to one," he says.
SUSAN FRY, '91, MA '92, is a writer in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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