Toronto – MAY 7, 2020 – Promation, an Oakville-based custom design and manufacturing firm, is being lauded by Toronto scientists and industry experts at University Health Network (UHN), University of Toronto (U of T), and Mackenzie Innovation Institute (Mi²) for the fast development of a low-cost ventilator in response to the potential of a sudden surge in demand due to COVID-19 or other future emergencies.
“We are incredibly grateful to the Promation team for their engineering expertise and generous support,” said Dr. Azad Mashari, anesthetist and lead researcher from University Health Network (UHN). “Prototypes like this often take months or years to develop. The Promation team worked almost around the clock to develop this version in just two weeks.”
In early April, with forecasted concerns of ventilator shortages, researchers saw a void that needed to be filled quickly during this COVID-19 crisis. Responding to a call for assistance, Promation immediately committed pro-bono support and joined the fight against COVID-19.
The Promation team designed, machined, programmed, built and tested two functioning prototypes, to ensure reliability, durability, safety and ease of use. Promation’s design can easily be mass-produced, and they are sharing their knowledge with other teams globally.
“We are thrilled with the development and rigorous testing that has gone into building this prototype,” said Dr. Kamran Behdinan, Professor and NSERC Design Chair in multidisciplinary engineering design at the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, University of Toronto. “It has been a great privilege to collaborate with the researchers and physicians from UHN-TGH as well as the experts from Promation to deliver a life-saving working prototype at the time of this pandemic.”
“We heard in March there was a possibility Canada could run out of ventilators and we felt compelled to do whatever we could to help,” said Darryl Spector, President of Promation, and an alumnus of the U of T Engineering program. “It’s beautiful to witness when personal values, moral obligation and professional competencies converge in response to a compelling call-to-action, where truly incredible things happen.”
“This collaboration is a testament that business is beyond quarterly performance and balance sheets — it is the real-life embodiment and manifestation of individual visions, values and passions.”
After initial investigations at the U of T and UHN, a ventilator device was adapted from an open source original design from MIT. It uses a motor and mechanical arms to squeeze a balloon-shaped “Bag Valve Mask, most commonly associated with the brand name “Ambubag (™/R)” which pushes oxygen into the patient’s lungs. An electronic controller allows the user to regulate the frequency, timing and amount of air squeezed.
The advantage of this ventilator’s design is that it can be rapidly deployed in case of a surge in demand, and operated in any emergency situation where there are no other alternatives. The device is portable and can operate ‘in-the-field’ using only two standard car battery packs for three days.
“All of the design files and related data are being put on an open-source platform so that others can learn from what we’ve done,” said Dr. Aviv Gladman, ICU Physician and Engineer, and Board Member of Mackenzie Innovation Institute. “We are all in this fight together.”
The prototype has undergone extensive testing at UHN’s facilities, and an expedited approval process is in discussion with Health Canada. The low-cost ventilator can be rapidly scaled and manufactured in large quantities as required.
“This simple but effective ventilator has the potential to be used not only for demand surges in Canada but also in low- and middle-income countries where conventional ventilators are prohibitively expensive,” says Dr. Ben Chan, Assistant Professor of Global Health at the University of Toronto and collaborator on the project.
Promation’s team consisted of Steve Evans, Alex Sakuta, Adam Mitlyng, Harin De Mel, Yajurvin Govindraj, David Chakhnazarov, Derek Jarzak, and Manju Shivaswamy, with support from Dr. Jesse May from UHN, Jeff Hulcoop from Laveer Engineering, and Matthew Humeny from Alithya.
To learn more, and for photos, visit: https://apil.ca/bvm-halo-vent/
For media inquiries please contact:
Christina Cindric, ph: 905-883-1212 ext. 7490, Christina.Cindric@mackenziehealth.ca