An engineer came up with a way to make ventilators affordable. Like, 93% more affordable.
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John Molander is not a typical retiree. At 63 years old, his face lights up when discussing his unusually large family (he's one of nine children!) and hobbies (teaching college kids how to safely gut and rebuild a home destroyed by natural disaster). But what really gets him excited is talking about his latest invention: a groundbreakingly affordable emergency ventilator.

Molander is an inventor, through and through. Problem-solving and innovation is in his DNA — a quality that served him well through his 34-year career with Procter & Gamble. And now, plunged into the pandemic health crisis, he's fighting against an invisible enemy.

In the months leading up to March 2020, Molander traveled the globe as a consultant offering solutions to a variety of complex problems, from figuring out why huge sea vessels sink when they hit icebergs to fixing houses after hurricanes. In his spare time, he sipped coffee in his quiet sunroom, watching the birds and pondering how to improve his golf handicap. Running a medical nonprofit was not in the forefront of his mind. Then the pandemic hit.


Procter & Gamble

"I started getting these notes from my sister, Karin [Molander], who is the National Director for the National Sepsis Alliance. She treats COVID-19 patients in the Bay Area," Molander told Upworthy. "She's on the front lines of this crisis. She asked me, 'John, what are we going to do? We can see a tidal wave coming our way. Could you do anything to help us with ventilators?'"

As it turns out, he could.

Molander set out to assemble a team of FDA experts, designers, doctors, engineers, and biomedical engineering professors. "Virtually everyone I talked to immediately put their hand in the air," he said, expressing amazement and gratitude at how quickly people jumped in with both feet to volunteer their time and talent.

Three weeks later, the team was testing their prototype on mannequins. By week four, Molander donned full personal protective equipment (PPE) to meet with doctors and respiratory therapists as they viewed demonstrations of the ventilators. Taking their feedback back to the lab, Venti-Now perfected the design. By week five, they were granted FDA Emergency Use Authorization.

"It's just bloody amazing to describe it," he said. "The FDA was fabulous...They worked on Easter weekend to push this out."

The team knew the ventilator required special design and assembly considerations in order to be viable in the current crisis. With that in mind, they designed a unit that could be easily and quickly fabricated and assembled, using in-stock and readily available medical-grade materials. Molander describes the design as "elegantly simple," made to be portable and durable, with only one moving part. The device weighs just 14 pounds, the average weight of a well-fed house cat.

Venti-Now demo www.youtube.com

The Venti-Now Class II medical device connects to hospital compressed air and has pressure monitors to make sure air is flowing at a rate that doesn't harm the patient. But it's a simpler unit than high-tech ventilators most hospitals now use, and because it can run on a small air compressor, it can be used for rural and developing countries. It's also a lot less expensive. Venti-Now's likely price is below $4,000, Molander said, while high-end units can sell for $55,000.

Additionally, because yes, there's more, this design helps answer the staggering global demand for ventilators. To put it in perspective, the population of Africa is 1.2 billion, and there are 2,000 operable ventilators. In Tanzania, when someone is put on a ventilator, the family works in shifts around the clock to squeeze the bag valve mask, which keeps the lungs working.

"If our machine can intervene before a patient has to be intubated, then two thumbs up," said Molander. "This is a war, and the viral attacker knows no borders."

Photo by Edwin Hooper on Unsplash

Indeed, more Americans have died from this virus than were killed in the Vietnam War, and Molander believes that we each have a role to play in combating this invisible enemy. It takes an army to fight; the soldiers are the doctors and nurses on the front lines fighting this virus, but we also have a 'citizen army.'

Holding up a mask, Molander urges everyone out there to follow CDC guidelines. "You don't wear the mask to protect yourself. We wear the mask to protect our fellow citizens," he said. "It's a small sacrifice to make … and it's a small thing that makes a big difference."

Turn your everyday actions into acts of good every day at P&G Good Everyday.

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Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

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Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


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Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


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Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

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Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


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Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

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L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

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Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

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All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Katie Schieffer is a mom of a 9-year-old who was recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes after spending some time in the ICU. Diabetes is a nuisance of a disease on its own, requiring blood sugar checks and injections of insulin several times a day. It can also be expensive to maintain—especially as the cost of insulin (which is actually quite inexpensive to make) has risen exponentially.

Schieffer shared an emotional video on TikTok after she'd gone to the pharmacy to pick up her son's insulin and was smacked with a bill for $1000. "I couldn't pay for it," she says through tears in the video. "I now have to go in and tell my 9-year-old son I couldn't pay for it."

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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

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In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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For some people, "no" is the hardest word they'll ever say. It's understandable, telling someone no can create a tense social situation and we all want to be seen as a nice person.

The problem is that never saying "no" to things we don't want to do can lead to a terrible build-up of resentment for our friends, family, or coworkers. It can also lead to feelings of low self-esteem because you can't manage to stand up for yourself.

Left unchecked, this problem can lead to a sense of despair because your life no longer feels like it's yours.

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Nearly a year into the deadliest pandemic in a century, the U.S. is still battling not only the virus, but Americans living in denial of reality as well.

Take this video of a group of anti-maskers who stood in front of a Trader Joe's entrance and tried to argue that they had every right to shop there without masks. The woman narrating the video states that they have "a right to commerce" (they don't—there's literally no such right), that Trader Joe's doesn't have the right to require masks (they do—it's their store), that the mandate to wear masks in public places can't be enforced because it's not a real law (it can—), and that they were not there to demonstrate, but just to buy groceries (umm, right).

The manager, to his credit, did what he could to calmly talk with these people while also making it clear that they were not going to enter the store without a mask.

"The point you're trying to make isn't going to be made with us," he said. "It can be made with your government...I am not here to debate policy. I totally respect for you to think anything you want to think...my job, as manager of the store is to enforce the mandate, whether you believe in it or not."


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