02 April 2020

REN, EDP, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and La Caixa / BPI are the first entities to support the Portuguese lung ventilator project

REN - Redes Energéticas Nacionais, EDP, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian and La Caixa / BPI are the first entities to support the Portuguese lung ventilator project, developed at CEiiA with the medical and scientific community in response to the national and global health emergency caused by Covid-19.

The association of these foundations and companies with the Atena project is decisive for Portuguese hospitals to have, in May, 100 units of the invasive mechanical ventilator model designed and developed to save the lives of those who enter into acute respiratory failure.

'The involvement of these four entities was instrumental in strengthening our response capacity in the development of these first 100 units. We are aware that this is an ambitious goal, but we have a bigger challenge ahead of us, the value of life, and for that it is necessary to have the necessary ventilators in hospitals so that it is not necessary to make choices according to age ', explains José Rui Felizardo, CEO of CEiiA-Center for Engineering and Product Development.

World Health Organization figures that 14% of those infected with Covid-19 have pneumonia and 5% of patients progress to a very critical condition of the lungs are lives to be saved.

The joint work between CEiiA engineers, intensivists, pulmonologists, anesthetists and internists from public and private hospitals in the North and South of the country and the University of Minho School of Medicine to design and develop the new ventilator reached the stage of functional prototype, for test with artificial lungs, fulfilling all functional requirements defined by the medical community. This project is the result of three weeks of cooperation in which CEiiA reoriented and lent its engineering capacity to the medical community to develop means and equipment considered decisive in combating the disease.

The decision to proceed with an invasive mechanical ventilator to respond to all situations of acute respiratory failure, including the most serious cases such as those of Covid-19, has several technical and safety requirements:
- control all essential parameters to respond to acute respiratory disease (tidal volume, respiratory rate, FiO2, PEEP, I:E ratio, pressure support, trigger, cycling)
- issue critical alarms to patient monitoring (peak pressure, end-expiratory pressure, end-inspiration pressure, minute volume, respiratory rate)
- operate from the hospital gas network or cylinders (portable version).

Among the characteristics also defined and validated by the medical community are its easy and intuitive use, easy to move, safe and reliable and also simple to clean and decontaminate. In technical terms, it must guarantee its continuous operation without fail for a minimum period of 15 days, 24 hours a day, and be compatible with other medical components.

This collective challenge of creating and producing a pulmonary ventilator stems from the WHO recommendation for countries to obtain pulmonary ventilator equipment to respond to this unprecedented health emergency, but it also stems from the special responsibility of science and technology to find answers, the involvement of those who use and know medicine, experience in development engineering, but above all cooperation and planning, dedication and commitment. For the growing community of professionals involved in this project, there is the same sense: 'for you, for us, for everyone'. 


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