A Calgary company has won an international design award for a new ventilator that can support up to four patients at the same time.
The Valence InVent Xtend device was invented by Dr. Steven Roy, a critical care medicine fellow at the University of Calgary and founder of the start-up Convergence Medical Sciences.
Last week, the company won an international Red Dot Design Award for creating the device.
After hearing that the medical industry was facing ventilator shortages in Italy at the beginning of the pandemic, Roy wanted to find a solution to increase available ventilators at a low cost.
He started by building prototypes of a split ventilator in his garage using vacuum parts from a hardware store.
After that, he teamed up with University of Calgary engineer Dr. Jihyun Lee and intensive care doctor Dr. Paul McBeth to refine the design.
"We figured out a way to be able to adjust the pressure for each patient so each patient can receive their own breath pressure, their own breath volume," said Roy.
The Valence InVent Xtend individualizes pressure to each patient while still triggering pressure alarms in the case of an emergency.
It also doesn't require maintenance after long periods of storage, unlike other ventilators — a roadblock that stopped thousands of stockpiled ventilators from being used when demand increased with the pandemic, said Roy.
Roy hopes that the recognition from Red Dot will result in the device being an accessible, low-cost solution to help people in developing countries, as well as during future disasters and pandemics.
Not only can the Valence InVent Xtend device support multiple patients, it also brings the cost down significantly. A single ventilator can cost as much as $70,000, whereas the Valence InVent Xtend costs about $50 per patient.
The device is currently pending Health Canada licensing and approval.