Ear, nose, and throat surgeon Dr. Kyle VanKoevering is doing his part to help Veterans and others who fall ill with COVID-19. Working together with a team at the University of Michigan, he developed a new device that will allow two patients with different needs to safely use the same ventilator.
As the scope of the COVID-19 pandemic came into focus, VanKoevering and his colleagues worried that not all hospitals would be able to provide ventilators for the sickest patients. They also knew that using a simple “vent-splitter,” a Y-shaped adaptor that allows medical staff to deliver pressurized oxygen from one ventilator to two patients, had significant limitations.
“The problem is that for patients to share a ventilator using a currently available vent-splitter, they must have the same ventilator needs,” said VanKoevering, according to the University of Michigan Health Lab. “Otherwise one person may receive excessive volume or pressure on their lungs, which can cause lung trauma.”
His solution was to invent a device that would allow physicians to customize air pressure settings for patients using a single ventilator, based on the size and elasticity of their lungs and their ventilatory needs.