Boston Scientific supporting project to build multiple ventilators in Covid-19 effort

Boston Scientific supporting project to build multiple ventilators in Covid-19 effort
John Wallace, Covid Response Team, collecting an anaesthetic machine with a ventilator attached, hoping to design a simplified emergency ventilator to combat the Covid-19 emergency donated by Dave Canty, MRCVS, Millview Veterinary Clinic, Victoria Cross, Cork. Picture: Jim Coughlan

Medical device company Boston Scientific is supporting a project started by an engineer to design and build multiple ventilators to deal with expected demand from Covid-19.

John Wallace, who runs a specialist engineering, is now working with his “Covid Response Team” out of Boston Scientific’s plant in Galway where the US multinational employs 3,700.

The project has already advanced to the point where components for what he styles a “battlefield” ventilator are now being built.

A shortage of ventilators in all countries now under attack from the Coronavirus has been identified as one of the most acute problems facing medical staff.

If the expected surge in infections in this country mirrors what has happened in Italy or Spain the expectation is that the stock of ventilators, used to assist patients to breathe, will not be sufficient to meet demand.

“We are progressing at a rapid pace,” Mr Wallace says. “We have received great support from Boston Scientific and a huge number of others. In fact, in a lot of cases we simply haven’t been able to take up the offers of support because we would be actually flooded by engineers. It reflects a great spirit of co-operation that this crisis has brought on.

As of now we are hoping to have our first machine to show specialists within the next week.

Before the crisis there were 1,000 ventilators in Irish public hospitals and another 200 in private care. The HSE is currently engaged in boosting that by 900, but the expected demand could be a multiple of that if the curve of infections is not sufficiently flattened.

In Italy the shortage of ventilators has forced medics to select patients for their use. New York governor Andrew Cuomo this week made a plea for “ventilators, ventilators, ventilators” to save lives in the US’s worst-hit state.

Meanwhile, various groups around the country have come up with innovative ways of raising funds for the not-for-profit battlefield ventilator project.

An appeal under the title ‘Keep Breathing’ on the GoFundMe platform had by yesterday raised €125,684, far exceeding its initial target of €50,000 for the not-for-profit venture.

An initiative called Cut4Covid has been started by a group in Kilkenny in which participants shave their heads, post a before and after video on various social media platforms and request donations to be sent for the project.

“Our main goal is to provide people with relief through humour in these bleak times while donating money to a good cause,” according to Jack McDonald who came up with the idea.

Other fundraising initiatives for the ventilator project have been started by dance clothing company Danceworld, the concert series Hidden Pianos, and Enibas Jewellery company, based in Schull, Co Cork.

Emily Wallace, who is co-ordinating the fundraising in the Covid Response Team said they were delighted at the response. “It really is inspiring for us as a team to see communities pull together at a tough time like this,” he said.

    Useful information
  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department;
  • GPs Out of Hours services are not in a position to order testing for patients with normal cold and flu-like symptoms. HSELive is an information line and similarly not in a position to order testing for members of the public. The public is asked to reserve 112/999 for medical emergencies at all times.
  • ALONE has launched a national support line and additional supports for older people who have concerns or are facing difficulties relating to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland. The support line will be open seven days a week, 8am-8pm, by calling 0818 222 024

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