Within three weeks—and for less than $1,000—Dr. Nataraj’s team made a functional, first-generation prototype of NovaVent.
“Our ventilator can do 90 percent of the essential job a $100,000 one would be required to do for a sedated patient,” Dr. Nataraj says.
Playing a crucial role in the success and momentum of Dr. Nataraj’s initiative, the M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing provided critical supplies needed for testing the designed prototype.
They also brought their critical care and ventilator expertise to the effort, with three Villanova Nurse Anesthesia students facilitating testing on the team.
This lifesaving machine, which easily connects with existing ventilation systems, will be open-source, meaning the computer codes and assembly instructions will be publicly available and the machine can be reproduced by anyone in the world, offering access to low-income countries where ventilators may be scarce.
“I don’t think we’re going to need them in the US, but there’s a demand right now in regions of Africa, India and Brazil,” says Dr. Nataraj, who points out the importance of low-cost ventilators beyond COVID-19. “They are a medical necessity, and there’s an opportunity to help especially underserved populations around the world.”