These Pakistani students won $20,000 for inventing a cost-effective ventilator

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    Machine ventilators come into use when someone struggles to breathe on their own. Unfortunately, though, the price of the machine is such that many hospitals, especially in the poorest regions of the world, cannot afford it at all.

    According to MIT News, in Pakistan alone, with a population of over 200 million people, it has less than 2,000 ventilators across all hospitals countrywide.

    “When we spoke to Pakistani doctors and hospital administrators, they expressed a need for a device that is simple to operate, capable of remote monitoring, portable, and built using locally sourced material. All of those considerations have informed our [first iteration of this machine],” Shaheer Piracha, a Boston graduate told the audience.

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    In February, a student team Umbilizer found a solution for this problem and won $20,000 to help address 90 per cent patients who struggle to breathe at a fraction of the cost for traditional ventilators. The money was set for the first-place finisher in the annual MIT Sloan Healthcare Innovations Prize competition.

    Among eight finalist teams who pitched their health care innovations to a packed audience in the auditorium at MIT, team Umbilizer was the first to invent a device that can help the poor and the needy with an aim to transform a traditional machine into a cost-saving and well-functioning device that serves the four most important purposes of the ventilator.

    The brainchild behind this project are Shaheer Piracha, a graduate of  Boston University and Sanchay Gupta, a graduate of Harvard Medical School Student won the pitch along with MIT alumnis, Moiz Iman, Abdurrahman Akkas and MIT mechanical engineering student Wasay Anwer, Rohan Jadega and Farzan Khan, currently studying at Boston University.

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    The device looks more like a desktop printer than a traditional bedside ventilator that takes up a lot of space which makes the Umbilizer’s ventilator more mobile and capable of running on batteries. The operator connects the device’s single tube to the patient which then rhythmically pumps air into the patient’s lungs.

    “Our device’s competitive advantage lies in the fact that we’ve balanced the accuracy and consistency of a traditional ventilator with the portability and affordability of an Ambu Bag,” said Piracha at MIT finale.

    This innovative ventilator will be sold at $2,000 compared to the $15,000 tag on the regular ventilator.