MSU-IIT engineer and students devise low-cost ventilator for COVID-19 patients

by Michelle Jeanne Caracut, OC/OPI

A TEAM composed of a faculty member and mechanical engineer, and graduating mechanical engineering students of MSU-Iligan Institute of Technology (IIT) successfully devised a low-cost and easy-to-build emergency ventilator to help COVID-19 patients.

The device called MSU-IIT Open Source Easy Ventilator (MOSEV) is a ventilator prototype that is easy to build and well-suited for Philippine setting, and does not require sophisticated manufacturing tools. 

It is affordable to produce, costing only around ₱50,000.00. Conventional ventilators cost around 1.5 million pesos.

The low-cost ventilator is designed by Prof. Sherwin A. Guirnaldo, the team’s project leader, and his BS Mechanical Engineering students, namely Diether Cabahug, Vince Pulmones, and Karl Leo Gustillo.

The MOSEV team fashioned a hand-held resuscitator or Bag-Valve-Mask (BVM) into a mechanically-driven BVM device to provide patients the proper ventilation.

Prof. Guirnaldo and his team started work on the MOSEV when the COVID-19 pandemic began in response to concerns about inadequate essential items for medical care such as personal protective equipment and ventilators. 

“This emergency ventilator is based on a Bag-Valve-Mask device or BVM which is usually used for resuscitation or for manual ventilation. Typically, a medical practitioner will manually squeeze a BVM to displace air from the bag and push it into the lungs of a patient. With the mechanism and control system in MOSEV, the squeezing process is now done mechanically resulting in a more accurate and precise ventilation similar to the performance of conventional mechanical ventilators,” explained Prof. Guirnaldo.    

According to Prof. Guirnaldo, the most important feature found in MOSEV that is rarely found in other emergency ventilator designs is MOSEV’s capability to perform Assist-Control.

Assist-control is a dynamic hybrid mode in mechanical ventilation wherein each breath is initiated by the patient (assist mode) or by the machine (control mode).

“With just around 1200 mechanical ventilators in the Philippines, MOSEV will play a very important role by providing ventilation to those who are on the waiting list for a conventional ventilator,” said Prof. Guirnaldo.  

The MOSEV team was able to implement the necessary features and functions for the device, however, Prof. Gurinaldo said that the device is not yet ready for deployment. 

“Devices like this require the highest possible standard as it will be used for patients in the Intensive Care Units of our hospitals. We need to go through clinical trials and FDA accreditation before we can deploy MOSEV,” he said.

The team is currently searching for sources of funding in order to proceed to the next steps in the project. 

“I am happy because despite the limited time and resources we were able to build the prototype. I am worried about the lack of funding. We need money to continue polishing the design for clinical trials, and for preparation in the FDA application,” shared the project leader. 

The team has been working on the MOSEV project since March 25 and has assembled the 4th prototype in the last week of June.

“MSU-IIT has been very supportive of my project in a way that I and my assistants as well as the collaborating medical doctors were given access to the premises of the Institute and our laboratory during the ECQ period. We were given access also to the services of our own Fablab [Mindanao] free of charge,” said Prof. Guirnaldo.

According to him, when work on the project became more serious and technical, some of the best medical doctors in Iligan came to help. The team received inputs from doctors Isidro Permites Jr., John Ramos, Sharon Uy Donaire, Randy Ong, and Jhong Tamparong.  

When asked if this work is considered part of the university’s responsibility to help its surrounding communities, Prof. Guirnaldo answered, “as one of the premier institutions of higher learning in the country, the Institute is a repository of knowledge, know-how, and experts. In times like this, the participation of the Institute in the formulation of solutions to the pressing issues and problems is a big help.”

“In my opinion, this is the time where our laboratories should be busy not because of obligation but for love of country. Experts and the Institute must work hand in hand to develop something that can be useful in today’s fight against COVID-19,” he said.

The health care system in the country, particularly in Iligan City, has been overwhelmed with new COVID-19 cases coming in daily. In some of these cases, the COVID-19 patients experience severe respiratory conditions. 

MSU-IIT Chancellor Sukarno D. Tanggol hailed the development of the MOSEV as timely and a testament to the university’s significant role in the community.

“I am proud of the capabilities and initiative of our outstanding faculty and students,” Tanggol said.

Photo credits: Jan Christian Pagarigan

Topics : mechanical ventilator  COVID-19  low-cost ventilator