Wonderful Engineering

Engineers Are Converting Breast Pumps Into Ventilators

The world is currently facing off against the COVID-19 pandemic and during this, a shortage of ventilators is proving to be a big challenge that needs to be overcome. That is where this particular group comprised of four engineers comes in with its novel approach to transforming unused breast pumps into ventilators. 

These four engineers hail from the University of Maryland’s Tech Port incubator as per a local WMAR2 report. These local engineers started off with the idea of reversing the airflow from the breast pumps thus implying that air is being blown out of patients’ lungs. Brandi Gerstner said that breast pumps are ‘sanitize-able biomedical device[s]’ that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and have been tried and tested and are known to be reliable. 

The best thing about this whole approach is that within four short hours and a cost of $300, you can have a prototype ready as opposed to the hospital-grade ventilators that can cost thousands or tens of thousands of dollars per each unit. After initial success with their idea, the four engineers have set up a Facebook page for promoting their work and are accepting donations in the form of Arduino circuit boards, breast pumps, and additional money for the sake of funding their project. You can actually directly donate to their project using the email breastpumpvent@gmail.com. The group’s Facebook page says that they are only accepting Spectra breast pumps at the time being. 

The team will still require FDA approval before their contraption can be used in hospitals. FDA has already issued an Emergency Use Authorization so that ‘positive pressure breathing devices modified for use as ventilators’ thus allowing for such ventilators to come from wherever that they can during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The team is currently consulting with pulmonologists for the sake of reviewing their design and to improve it. We hope that their contraption is up to the task and receives FDA approval soon enough.