He saw a need for ventilators, so this doctor made one

Ventilators made by Eric Moyle and Justin Ford at UNSW Rural Clinical School to be used for education

National News
It has the basic functions of a ventilator you would find in a hospital.

It has the basic functions of a ventilator you would find in a hospital.

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Ventilators made by Eric Moyle and Justin Ford at UNSW Rural Clinical School to be used for education

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As the Australian government scrambled to secure more ventilators during the COVID-19 outbreak, a project was underway in a room near Albury Hospital to create one of the machines.

Eric Moyle, who has worked as a visiting medical officer in intensive care at Albury for 20 years, was concerned by early modelling of the pandemic.

"I was called back from long-service leave, and very rapidly we expected to go from nothing to an overwhelming need for intensive care management," he said.

"We have five ventilators in the intensive care unit, and we anticipated we would need vastly more than that.

"As part of my training many years ago in intensive care, we used to make our own ventilators."

As a conjoint lecturer at the University of NSW Rural Clinical School, Dr Moyle was able to team up with the campus' technical specialist Justin Ford.

Together, they sourced disposable medical supplies, valves you would find in a garden watering system, and electronics to build their ventilator.

"We had a working model within two days, which we then put out for comment," Dr Moyle said.

"One of the problems was, there were no supply chains, so we could only use what we could buy commercially in Albury.

"The bits of the ventilator which are designed to be connected to the patient are still medical-grade, and the bits that drive the pressure are the over-the-counter devices."

Eric Moyle, who has worked as a visiting medical officer in intensive care at Albury for 20 years, has created a ventilator with Justin Ford at UNSW Rural Clinical School. Picture: JAMES WILTSHIRE

Eric Moyle, who has worked as a visiting medical officer in intensive care at Albury for 20 years, has created a ventilator with Justin Ford at UNSW Rural Clinical School. Picture: JAMES WILTSHIRE

Costing less than $300 to make, the machine replicates the basic functions of those in hospitals.

"The current ventilators we have in intensive care use a lot more micro-processors and high-end regulators," Dr Moyle said.

"We couldn't use that design of ventilator - we couldn't access parts - so we're using what is called a 'bag in the bottle' system where you actually fill up a bag, and compress that bag using compressed gasses.

"Along with a flow and pressure regulator, that gives the patient oxygen."

There is no intention to use the machines; while Dr Moyle is confident in their design, the ventilators would need to undergo regulatory processes and testing.

BIT BY BIT: Eric Moyle, an Albury doctor and conjoint lecturer for the UNSW Rural Clinical School Albury campus, walks sixth-year-student Carla Hensel through parts required to create a makeshift ventilator. Picture: JAMES WILTSHIRE

BIT BY BIT: Eric Moyle, an Albury doctor and conjoint lecturer for the UNSW Rural Clinical School Albury campus, walks sixth-year-student Carla Hensel through parts required to create a makeshift ventilator. Picture: JAMES WILTSHIRE

Of course, they could be of use in a worst-case scenario, and the ventilators will still be of much value.

Students have worked with Dr Moyle and Mr Ford on the project, and it's hoped future students will also have the opportunity.

"While the initial impetus was for ventilator supplies, they're now going to be for training purposes," Dr Moyle said.

"It's very good to suddenly say 'I'm going to send you 20 ventilators', but you need the staff who know how to run them.

"If we can run simulations, we can train staff and students so they know what's required."

The story He saw a need for ventilators, so this doctor made one first appeared on The Border Mail.

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