Everyone has a right to live, whether rich or poor. Unfortunately, in medicine, sometimes the cost of a procedure, medicine or medical equipment ends up making a distinction between the same, which of course isn’t fair. One such important but expensive piece of medical equipment is a portable ventilator.
Seeing that the needy weren’t able to afford such an important machine for their survival, a robotic engineer from India set on a mission to develop the world’s smallest and cheapest ventilator. The the 25-year-old inventor Diwakar Vaish was joined by Dr Deepak Agarwal, professor of neuroscience at AIIMs in his mission.
Together, the two brainiacs ended up inventing a ventilator that is almost 450 times smaller than the conventional ventilators currently being using in medicine and can also be moved around much easily than their predecessors. They also managed to bring down the cost from INR 2 lakh-2.5 lakhs to INR 15,000-20,000.
For the uninitiated, a ventilator is a machine designed to move breathable air into and out of the lungs, to provide breathing for a patient who is physically unable to breathe, or breathing insufficiently.
Not only is the ventilator developed by the duo smaller and cheaper, it is also better than others. The portable ventilator makes uses of an artificial intelligence algorithm in order to adjust air supply to the normal breathing pattern of the patient. In order to provide the loved ones of the patient a complete control, the machine is programmed to be controlled by an Android app.
In order to test the portable ventilator, the inventors successfully used the ventilator for a couple of hours on six fully paralysed patients at AIIMS who have been unable to return home for the want of affordable ventilators.
Speaking to the Hindustan Times, Agarwal explained the physical working of the ventilator. He said,” It works by pushing the atmospheric air into the lungs of the patients who cannot breathe on their own. The disposable ventilators currently in use also push in air, but they do it at a fixed frequency that does not necessarily match the patient’s breathing pattern, which may cause low oxygen saturation. This device synchronises ventilator air support with the normal breathing pattern.”
Agrawal also shared that though there already is a FDA-approved disposable ventilator that costs between Rs 10,000 and Rs 15,000 in the market, but it has a maximum life of just four weeks. On the contrary, their invention will be a one-time investment and since it runs on room air, and not oxygen, the operational costs are close to zero. This means, no requirement for oxygen cylinders, which cost anywhere between Rs 3,000 and Rs 4,000 a day.
Three years ago, in 2014, we had reported how OneBreath, a medical device company, had invented a portable ventilator which though provides the same performance and functionality of the current market leaders in the technology but is still available at much cheaper rates and is more reliable and easy to use than them. The device developed by them at that time costed a whopping Rs 3 lakh, which was still way cheaper than the regular product in the market at that time which carried a price tag of around Rs 25 lakh. It is safe to say that the ventilator developed by Vaish and Agarwal is much more in budget for the general population of India. As for the performance, we will have to wait till the product debuts in the market.
As soon as the ventilator gets an approval from the drug controller general of India, the portable ventilator will hit the market priced somewhere between INR 15,000-20,000.