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Mexicans Create 3D Printed Respirators for COVID-19 Patients

By Alicia Arizpe | Wed, 03/25/2020 - 11:57

The rapid spread of COVID-19 has put the national healthcare systems of many countries to the test, with many quickly being overwhelmed by the needs of an exponentially growing number of cases. Respirators, critical for patients with severe infections, are few and their scarcity has put doctors in the harsh position to judge which of the many patients should receive the scarce, life-saving devices. Mexican entrepreneurs are rising to the challenge by developing 3D printable respirators to address the scarcity and save lives.

Coronaviruses that can infect humans, known as human pathogenic coronaviruses, commonly attack cells in the lungs, kidneys, intestines and blood vessels. For most infected, COVID-19 symptoms include fever, cough and head and body aches. However, up to 14 percent of those infected will present severe symptoms and 5 percent will fall into a critical stage and suffer from respiratory failure, shock or multiorgan dysfunction.

To this date, there is no treatment for COVID-19 so doctors can only address the symptoms of the disease, which for critical patients involve respiratory support through respirators. Hospitals, however, are prepared to address average patient loads. They are not prepared for a pandemic and the rapid increase of patients needing these very limited resources is forcing doctors to have to choose who gets to use the life-saving device with full knowledge that those who do not receive treatment might not make it.

Fully aware of the scarcity, Mexican entrepreneurs are collaborating with their peers across the globe to develop low-cost, 3D printable respirators for COVID-19 victims. Timely access to respirators might mean the difference between life and death for patients in critical condition, whose numbers are only expected to increase as the pandemic grows unchecked. The entrepreneurs, which include industrial designer Marco Barba, Dr. Omar Cardos, mechatronic engineer Jannier Abreu, biometrics engineer Felipe Reye and industrial designer Jorge Martínez, expect to have prototypes within a week.

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Image by Sharon McCutcheon from Pixabay
Alicia Arizpe Alicia Arizpe Senior Writer