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BYU Engineers Develop COVID-Ready Ventilator

PROVO, Utah — As Utah sees a surge in people hospitalized with COVID-19, there is a new ventilator ready to hit the market, thanks to some engineers from Brigham Young University. It will help those suffering from the respiratory virus, but also save hospitals money.

The BYU alums and students invented a low-cost ventilator, and they just received emergency approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to head to manufacturing.

“We are just excited. This is a long time coming,” said Kindall Palmer, one of the co-founders of the ventilators. “Once the FDA announced their emergency-use program, we got to work right away — hoping that we could help — and this came together very quickly. We couldn’t be more excited.”

The ventilators are actually years in the making, and the inspiration behind Palmer’s motivation into the project comes from his 4-year-old son, Erickson.

Erickson nearly lost his life due to a heart defect.

“The day after he was born, he turned blue and had to be rushed to the ICU,” said Erica Palmer, Erickson’s mother.

Erickson spent the first two months of his life on a ventilator. That inspired his parents, Erica and Kindall — who were both BYU students at the time — to get involved in a university project to bring ventilators to newborns in developing nations who were suffering from heart defects.

They called it the NeoLife Ventilator.

When the pandemic hit and the call went out for more ventilators, the BYU team realized they had everything in place to produce an adult ventilator for those suffering from the virus.

The AdultLife Ventilator has all the same benefits of a regular hospital ventilator but is tens of thousands of dollars cheaper, and extremely mobile.

Production of the ventilator is set to begin this week at ATL Technology in Springville, an FDA-approved medical device manufacturer.

Engineers said they’re hoping to produce 500 ventilators in the next six-to-eight weeks, and as many as 10,000 over the next several months.

“We had the experience, we knew what was going on, we were able to hit the ground running, and we already had teams of respiratory therapists and doctors that we could talk to instead of having to re-invent the wheel,” said engineer Andy Armstrong. “This is just really exciting.”

“We can take this unit (and) drop it by the bedside; it’s self-sufficient anywhere,” said Rob Brown, head engineer on the project.

The team is also hoping to produce some for countries that can’t afford ventilators.

They have set up a fund for those wanting to help out with that.

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