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A low-tech ventilator, developed and built by the Project Inspiration team, has reached Guatemala where it will double the national stock of ventilators.
Avishek Goel and Diego Quan (right) packing the ventilator for transport. (Photo: TU Delft)

A low-tech ventilator, developed and built by the Project Inspiration team, has reached Guatemala where it will double the national stock of ventilators.

At the last count, the total number of ventilators available for Covid-19 patients in Guatemala was only 56 for a country with over 17 million inhabitants. In comparison: the Netherlands had over 2,400 intensive care beds with ventilators for the same number of people.

This worrying shortage motivated master student of Mechanical Engineering Diego Quan Reyes to ship an affordable ventilator, built by the TU Delft Project Inspiration team, to his home country. The target is to have some 50 copies made by a local production facility run by Talleres Hernandez, and give them to the Roosevelt Hospital in Guatemala City. At the other side of the world, his partner Oscar Flores heads Talleres Hernandez’s communications team and the electronics team in Guatemala.

“Shipping took longer than expected,” says Quan Reyes over the telephone. “But the prototype is now being cleared through customs.” The next step is to have it copied by Talleres Hernandez and to have the copy tested and approved for use in hospitals. “I’ll have a meeting with the Ministry of Health later today on this,” says the master’s student. He is striving for the test to be done within two weeks.

He expects the demand for ventilators to increase in that time as the coronavirus has just hit the country. So far, there have been 703 confirmed cases. Of these, 72 have recovered, 17 have died and the rest are still fighting for their lives. “Yet, Guatemala is one of the countries with the lowest rate of testing,” says Quan Reyes, hinting at major under reporting.

Quan Reyes also set up a website with information on the coronavirus in his home country. Once the ventilator has been licenced, Quan Reyes will start a fundraising campaign on his website to pay for the production of ventilators and fund other corona-related measures.

The TU Delft Project Inspiration research group, led by Dr Gerwin Smit (3mE), has published all the documentation and technical details of the ventilator project open source on GitHub.

The Project Inspiration ventilator was based on an English design from the 1960s, which was used for over 20 years in hospitals all over Europe.

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