MIT students' Project Prana is bringing low-cost ventilators to India amid the COVID crisis
As COVID positive cases see a steep rise across the country, patients and their relatives are literally on a hunt for oxygen cylinders, beds, and ventilators. Governments and corporates from across the world are also looking to support India with vaccine raw materials, medicines, ventilators, oxygen, etc.
MIT students Shriya Srinivasan and Rajib Monda of Project Prana have built a low-cost multiplex ventilator called iSave. The Individualised System for Augmenting Ventilator Efficacy (iSave) can connect one ventilator to two patients, and one can also control the parameters they need so that it is safe and customised to each patients' need.
"You can also track both patients simultaneously on the respiratory monitor. This makes the job easier for clinicians and nurses to track the patients. We can also set the alarm so that they are safe for each patient," says Shriya, in a conversation with Shradha Sharma, Founder and CEO, YourStory.
She explains that the ventilator has all the safety measures in place so that while the ventilation is being split, quality is not lost.
Rajib explains that while everyone is paying attention to the oxygen crisis and are looking to bring oxygen cylinders to the country, the next crisis they will be seeing is ventilator shortages.
Citing a quote from Ashok Patel, CEO, Max Ventilators, Rajib says, India has less than 50 percent of the ventilators that are needed for COVID-19 treatment.
While many are looking to buy full-functioning ventilators, we have to note that it is time-consuming and costly. Rajib explains that a full-functioning ventilator costs around Rs 43 lakh. However, the iSave ventilators are priced at Rs 45,000 and are completely Made in India, out of Chennai.
"iSave utilises existing vents and multiplexes them to serve multiple patients. With this, for Rs 10 crore, we can get over 3,000 units and serve 6,000 patients," adds Rajib.
Project prana's iSave
Shriya explains: "The ventilators can be assembled within 10 minutes even by an inexperienced technician or a nurse and can accommodate the course of the therapy of the patient. It is low cost and easy-to-use, and the results are published and validated in several publications."
Shriya is a postdoc at MIT in Bob Langers lab, and is a well-known biomedical engineer. She is working in neural engineering and has worked in the field of prosthetics. Rajib is a PhD student in the Health Sciences and Technology programme at Harvard and MIT.
Rajib had previously studied medicine and electrical engineering. "The two of us are good friends, we know each other from an initiative called MIT Hacking Medicine. It's a student group that tackles healthcare problems with creative problem solving and a design thinking approach," says Rajib.
The team currently consists of 10 people and Project Prana's partner firm in Chennai, which is manufacturing the devices.
Project Prana's iSave has been piloted in Ecuador and Italy where they are preparing for the next wave. The team is looking for donations to scale the manufacturing of the devices. Donations can be made here.