An engineer came up with a way to make ventilators affordable. Like, 93% more affordable.
Venti-Now.org
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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.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."