KINGSTON, R.I. – July 15, 2020 – The Ventilator Project, which has worked with governments, hospitals, manufactures and institutions such as the University of Rhode Island to address the need for ventilators in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, is preparing to donate 442 ventilator kits to aid patients in Nigeria, Indonesia, Haiti and Nicaragua.
But they need the help of donors. The Ventilator Project has started a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for the project and is accepting donations at ventilatorproject.org.
In each country, doctors will receive donated sleep apnea machines that have been sterilized and refurbished, along with kits of off-the-shelf parts needed to turn the machines into ventilators, said Alex Hornstein, founder of the Ventilator Project.
Donors from around the country and thousands of hours of volunteer effort have provided in-kind donations of over 75% of the cost of the kits and shipping. But some parts have to be purchased new.
“The crowdfunding campaign will raise money to purchase those last necessary components and get these units into doctors’ hands,” Hornstein said.
On Friday, July 17, the Ventilator Project along with volunteers from URI, including international students from the four countries receiving shipments, will pack the kits at the URI Shipping and Receiving warehouse on the Narragansett Bay Campus (Building 8 off of Receiving Road in the southern end of the campus). The packing will take place form 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Media are invited to cover the event.
The volunteer-run Ventilator Project has been working since February to address the need for ventilators around globe, taking in donations of used and new sleep apnea machines to be refurbished to be used as ventilators. Working with doctors, the project settled on supplying equipment for a treatment called Non-Invasive Positive Pressure Ventilation, with the goal of delaying or preventing intubation in COVID-19 patients who need ventilation.
In the United States, the Ventilator Project collaborated with Ventilator Shortage Working Groups led by state governments in Rhode Island and Colorado, and city and state governments of New York. As it zeroed in on effective ventilator supplies in the U.S., the project also reached out to doctors in developing countries. Since April, the initiative has shipped evaluation kits of ventilators to doctors in 11 countries. Doctors in four of those countries have requested large-scale donations of the machines to treat patients.
In April and May, the project ran a statewide donation drive in Rhode Island, partnering with URI, the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation, and more than a hundred volunteers, to collect and refurbish more than 650 unused sleep apnea machines. Ninety-two of those machines were delivered in early May to the Rhode Island Department of Health and the R.I. National Guard.
With the effectiveness of Rhode Island’s effort to limit the spread of the virus, the Rhode Island Ventilator Shortage Working Group determined the state had sufficient ventilators, allowing the Ventilator Project to distribute the remaining units, Hornstein said.
For more than two months, the project has worked closely with doctors, hospitals, local governments and federal ministries of health in Nigeria, Indonesia, Haiti, and Nicaragua to ensure the ventilators will be received and used effectively. Doctors in each country will receive the donated sleep apnea machines, each bundled with a kit of off-the-shelf parts that allow the machines to be used effectively on patients.
Learn more about Ventilator Project’s work in response to the COVID ventilator shortage at http://ventilatorproject.org/story.