A rough-edged black box with a plastic tube coming out of it, and a small LCD screen -- this could be the lifesaving ventilator for critical Covid-19 patients in the imminent future.
Amid scarcity of ventilators at a time when a possible coronavirus outbreak is looming over the country, a team, led by two cousins – a doctor and engineer -- have developed the prototype of such a device.
The cousins are Baized Shuvo, chief executive officer of Axion Engineering, and Kazi Shakkher, medical officer at the capital's Rushmono Specialized Hospital.
The team also include Asif Fahad Kingshuk, a student of computer science and engineering at BRAC University, and Tajbiul Hasan Kabbo, a student of electrical and electronic engineering at Ahsanullah University of Science and Technology.
They named the device "Spondon: Made in Bangladesh".
Currently, there are only 10 ventilators available for patients diagnosed with Covid-19, Aminul Hasan, director of Hospitals and Clinics section of Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), had told The Daily Star.
While there are plans to set up more, but when and where these ventilators would be set up is yet to be finalised, he said.
Ventilators pump oxygen into the lungs of patients suffering from severe pulmonary stress or patients unable to breathe on their own anymore.
For patients with the worst effects of the coronavirus infection, a ventilator offers the best chance of survival.
"We first came up with the concept a year ago after noticing the fact that ventilators are expensive. Importing a ventilator can cost up to Tk 5 lakh," said Baized.
This ventilator, however, is made entirely of materials that can be found locally, and its components are made from scratch, the inventors said.
When a regular ventilator comes with many features, this model would just help patients alleviate their breathing difficulties by pushing oxygen into their lungs.
Shakkher, explained what this means, "Ventilators have multiple modes. Some are 'spontaneous', which pumps oxygen to the patient's lung at a regular interval by analysing his or her breathing.
"Whereas our ventilator provides 'continuous mandatory ventilation' where the patient is given a steady stream of oxygen at a pre-set parameter," he said.
"This is the mode needed in most ICU settings. This can help keep a dying patient alive for five to seven days until a proper ventilator is found," Shakkher said.
"The prototype is theoretically okay and has been tested using a plastic lung. Now we have to test it on real patients," he added.
And for that, the team is seeking permission from the relevant government authorities.
"If we can test it on patients and get positive results, we can go into mass production," he added.
As of yet, they have not inked any deal with any financial backers, but are on the search for interested parties.