Local Nonprofit Poised To Save Lives In India

Covid-19 has brought to light a dire shortage in ventilator capacity worldwide, with under-resourced healthcare systems being hit particularly hard. Sharing ventilators has been proposed as an option for alleviating this shortage, though it faces considerable criticism from physicians due to safety concerns. Typically, when splitting ventilation, clinicians must match patients based on size, age, and condition, which leads to a great deal of risk as it becomes difficult to individualize the flow or make adjustments if a patient’s status changes. 

A team of researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Brigham and Women’s Hospital has designed a system of splitting ventilation that addresses the most pertinent safety concerns. The Individualized System for Augmenting Ventilator Efficacy (iSAVE) allows for personalized air volume and pressure to each patient through flow control valves. The iSAVE also incorporates filters to prevent cross-contamination between patients and pressure-release valves and alarms to alert clinicians if a patient’s air intake changes. The validation of this system in ventilating two subjects simultaneously was recently published in Science Translational Medicine. The team has also created a website with information on how to set up the system and where to obtain parts. 

Project Prana is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization which grew out of these efforts, with the mission of creating device-based and educational solutions to address the ventilator shortage worldwide. They are working to operationalize the iSAVE in various nations. 

Project Prana has recently partnered with IndVentr, an India-based consortium, to alleviate challenges due to the shortage in ventilation during the pandemic. IndVentr is made up of four startup companies, Ionic3DP, Sinergia Media Labs, Digital Core Technologies, and Aruvii, and aims to create innovative, frugal, and easy to manufacture emergency care ventilators for treating Covid-19 patients.

“Project Prana and IndVentr will join forces to offer both low-cost ventilators and multiplexing systems to markets in India and neighboring countries.” says Shriya Srinivasan, President of the Project Prana Foundation. “This effort is poised to equip and greatly expand the capacity of healthcare systems in developing nations,” says Khalil Ramadi, Vice President of the Foundation.

“iSAVE is a carefully designed and thoroughly tested ventilator sharing platform which can quickly scale up the ventilator infrastructure around the world which is currently under heavy challenge by the Covid-19 epidemic” says Silji Abraham, SVP & Chief Digital and Transformation Officer at West Pharmaceutical Services and an advisor of the IndVentr consortium. “This innovative, frugal solution, which will cost less that Rs 20,000 augments perfectly the solution space IndVentr has been focusing on,” says Prakash Bare, the project head at IndVentr. 

Project Prana is actively seeking donations to support the development and distribution: http://projectprana.org/. These will directly help fight the surging COVID-19 pandemic in India and around the globe.

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Awijeet Shandilya
The developer

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