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Ukrainian startup prints a device that doubles number of patients connected to a lung ventilator

The team of Ukrainian startup MAWI introduced the Mawi Pipeline device, which could potentially double the number of patients connected to a single artificial respirator. A journalist from AIN.UA learned from the developers how the device works and tells what warnings there are from doctors.

What is Mawi Pipeline

Mawi Pipeline is a Y-shaped adapter made on a 3D printer that connects to the ventilator and makes it possible to connect several patients at once (the standard machine makes it possible to connect only one person). This is a kind of mechanical splitter that separates the air flows by splitting it into 2 tubes.

The developers uploaded the manufacturing blueprints online. To receive files, you must register on the website

The developers claim that the device can be printed on any domestic or industrial 3D printer. The size of the nozzle (print head) should be 0.4 mm. As a material, it is recommended to use a hypoallergenic medical plastic, pre-certified according to the standards. The cost of one connector, as informed by MAWI, will be about $10.

The idea of creating this product came up against the backdrop of an extended period of deliveries of mechanical ventilation: due to high demand, the waiting list extended to months. The concept of the contraption is not new. In 2006, a description of such a device appeared in the public domain. It was uploaded by a Canadian doctor. The demand for the contraption was not there since there was no particular need for such technology. 

The MAWI team decided to improve and further develop the device, as well as test it under real-life conditions. Now about 10 people are working on the project: technology team, production, certification in other countries, communication with media and requests coming from Ukraine as well as other countries.

Mawi Pipeline testing

Pipeline testing took place on various ventilators, the initiative was supported by several Kyiv hospitals. The first tests revealed many inaccuracies. Some elements had to be refined and some had to be replaced. It also became clear that the safest and most effective is the branching of the connector into 2 tubes, and not into 4 or more.

“In Ukraine, there are mostly not the most advanced ventilation devices that do not work at full capacity. Therefore, we adapted the device and improved it so that Pipeline could work in Ukraine as much as possible under various real-life conditions.”

After introducing changes to the connector, the developers conducted new tests and, as they themselves assure, the device showed itself well.

Safety

According to MAWI, the capacity of the ventilator is excessive in use. The standard of use when connecting is 400-500 mg per person, the device is capable of delivering 1500-2000 mg. For this reason, as they say in MAWI, the use of a connector for two people should not reduce the effectiveness of the procedure. It should also be noted that only people with similar lung sizes can be connected to the same device. That is, it makes it impossible to connect an adult and a child. 

A practitioner, on condition of anonymity, shared with AIN.UA an opinion about such a device. According to him, that is not for no reason that ventilators are designed to serve the only one person: it is important not just to connect the patient, but to set all parameters as precisely as possible. The chances that two completely identical patients will be in the same room are small. And in the event that the power of the device is averaged, and not set to required parameters, it can harm, not help. In addition, there is a risk of infection transmission from one patient to another. Therefore, it is necessary to carry out a lot of additional tests before allowing the use of such devices.

Demand

At this stage, the project undergoes certification in the European Union and the USA. There is a prospect to get a certificate in Ukraine, but it is not a goal for the team. The startup considers the United States as the main market. It has already sent there 100 Mawi Pipeline connectors. Italy, Britain, and a few Asian countries are also interested in the project.

The team also announced that it is ready to produce and deliver free connectors to hospitals that admit patients infected with COVID-19. For this purpose, institutions are asked to fill out an application form on the Mawi Pipeline website.

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