Help us get ventilators into their hands
Since March, we have been collecting donated respiratory equipment from individuals and companies, and working with together doctors to find ways that it can be used to treat patients in this current crisis. Thanks to generous donors, we have received valuable support as in-kind donations, but there are some supplies that we need to buy outright to get everything together. Your support lets us get these systems out the door and into doctors' hands!
What is the Need?
We're working with doctors in eleven countries. In each of those countries, doctors have reviewed a sample of the ventilator, and in five of those countries, the doctors came back and made a formal request for a large number of ventilators for patient use, either through a hospital, a large medical NGO, or the country's Ministry of Health.
Haiti -- 150 ventilators requested
Nigeria -- 140 ventilators requested
Indonesia -- 140 ventilators requested
Nicaragua -- 12 ventilators requested
Additional Outreach -- 20 ventilators
How does it work?
Throughout this project, we have run mainly on in-kind donations and volunteer effort. We have received about 75% of the total cost of delivering ventilators, thanks to donated medical supplies, volunteer hours and shipping. The remaining 25% are components that we have to purchase new, and that's where we need your help. Your donations through this site will continue to be matched in-kind by corporate and individual donors who are helping us secure and ship materials around the world to our recipients.
In the spirit of transparency, we are opening our finances. For the past couple months, we have been sending kits to doctors all over the world, and this is what it costs us to get all the components of a non-invasive ventilator into a doctor's hands. In-kind donations are in bold.
Home-use CPAP $210
Circuit components and oxygen hood $137.05
Printed manuals and Packaging $2.00
Refurbishing, Packing, and Coordination labor $73.41
Shipping door-to-airport $74.22
Total delivered cost of a ventilator kit $496.68
Total in-kind donations (CPAP, shipping, labor) $358.63
Manufacturers' discount $20.00
Remaining Amount Needed per kit $118.05
3% Credit Card Processing Fee $3.54
Total Amount Remaining $121.59
About the Ventilator Project
In early March, Ventilator Project started as a volunteer organization to help address the widespread ventilator shortage in the face of COVID-19. As the US prepared for the pandemic, we worked with doctors, state officials, and members of the state boards of health in ventilator shortage groups in Rhode Island, Colorado and New York. Our focus was the plan B for hospitals: how hospitals could use existing respiratory devices to treat COVID patients, if the hospital ran out of hospital ventilators. In the US, thanks to social distancing and other public health precautions, we fortunately didn't face widespread ventilator shortages, but many other countries around the world are facing extreme ventilator shortages now, as COVID cases continue to rise around the world.
Starting in April, we ran a state-wide donation drive in Rhode Island, working with the RI Chamber of Commerce, Apogee Logistics, 27 volunteer fire stations, and students, faculty and staff from the University of Rhode Island to collect and refurbish over 850 unused CPAP and BiPAP machines. Read more about our story here .
As we started collecting workable CPAPs, we started working with doctors locally and abroad to ensure that they could be used in hospitals and develop a protocol for their use. After two months of working with doctors around the world, we got to where we are today -- doctors in many locations around the world
How we work
Since May, we have been working with doctors in eleven different countries outside the US. We approach each country in the same way -- we reach out directly to doctors treating COVID in the country, and we start by having a conversation with the doctor and mailing them an evaluation kit, which contains every component necessary to hook up a ventilator. These kits aren't for patient use, but for the doctor and her colleagues to evaluate and decide if they can use them at their point of care. The doctors work with the sample units, and if they decide they can be used in their hospital, they formally request more units for patient care and we put together a bulk shipment.
To date, we've worked with doctors in these countries:
+ Timor L'este
About our Ventilators
At the start of the COVID crisis, lots of groups came together to respond to the ventilator shortage. Our belief is that the best approach here is not to invent a brand-new ventilator, but to work with doctors who are finding ways to use existing, common respiratory devices to treat COVID patients.
There are many different types of ventilators and respiratory treatments. In normal, non-COVID times, a hospital would have these respiratory treatments available for patients who have a respiratory problem. They are arranged in order of increasing capability and increasing invasiveness. COVID threw everyone for a loop because it had a tendency to go airborne, and after Wuhan, the WHO released a guidance recommending against non-invasive ventilators that use vented masks, for fear of aerosolizing the virus and exposing health care workers to the virus.
This is a sensible guidance, but challenging for hospitals and doctors -- hospitals around the world generally took the WHO's recommendation and stayed away from CPAP and BiPAP ventilation, but that also meant that they had to jump to invasive intubation much earlier than they would in any other course of treatment, and caring for an intubated patient is complicated and requires a lot of highly trained ICU staff and resources.
Our goal is to work with non-invasive ventilators in a way that both protects health care workers from exposure, and can delay or prevent patients from needing to be intubated. We do this by following similar protocols used to treat COVID across Italy and at the University of Chicago, by using a device called an Oxygen Helmet -- a non-invasive device that fits over a patient's head and makes an airtight seal around their neck and allows for connections to a CPAP to provide pressure and oxygen, and for a viral filter that prevents tiny contaminated droplets from the patient from escaping the helmet and exposing health care workers. The common vented mask used in most CPAPs
This is not a new idea -- doctors have been successfully treating ARDS and respiratory conditions with helmet-based ventilators like these since the early 2000's, but the method has not been widely distributed. Our small contribution here isn't invention -- it's just filling in the communication, documentation, and sourcing gaps that make it hard for ideas to spread.
Dr. Alan Steinbach, demonstrating the associated Circum-Vent protocol for using our ventilators:
What happens after these ventilators ship out?
462 ventilators mean a lot to the doctors and the patients that they treat, but it's a drop in the bucket compared to the need around the world. We are working with doctors at Emory and NYU to organize a research study with the recipients, to collect the clinical outcomes of patients on the ventilators. This study will be published and peer reviewed, and the results of these first ventilators will serve as a key piece of supporting data to unlock additional donations in the future from large aid organizations.
Who we are
Ventilator Project is a volunteer organization. Over the past four months, we've worked with over 175 volunteers who have contributed their time, expertise and efforts to helping us communicate, organize, collect, test and distribute respiratory tools to hospitals. A few of our key organizers are:
Alex Hornstein -- Ventilator Project founder, graduated from MIT, spent a decade working around the world in rural infrastructure, and works on a million things at once.
Hannah Liongoren -- Communications team lead, with background in design and advertising and a master's degree from RISD in Interior Architecture, helps craft our team's graphics, website and communications.
Dr. Andre Fenton -- Chief Scientific Advisor, Neuroscientist at NYU leading the Fenton Lab, is key in organizing doctors and partner health care organizations and helping guide the project from the beginning
and many, many others who have our deepest gratitude for their help at this critical time.
We wouldn't get anywhere without the support of others in our community. Our heartfelt thanks goes out to:
<3 Urban Smart Growth
<3 Steer Digital Media
<3 RI Commerce Corporation
<3 Absolute Respiratory Care
<3 Ocean Opportunity
And all the volunteers who helped us move this project into reality.
If you have any specific questions on our campaign or efforts and would like to reach out to us directly, please email [email redacted]