An MIT team created a ventilator that only costs $100 using a common hospital item
via MIT

One of the biggest obstacles to treating patients with COVID-19 is the worldwide ventilator shortage. New York state is the hardest-hit region in the U.S. and the situation is so dire, Governor Andrew Cuomo recently put out a call for 30,000 additional ventilator units.

A study from Imperial College in London found that an estimated 30% of all people hospitalized due to the virus will need a ventilator.


COVID-19 creates inflammation and fluid build-up in the lungs, which makes it very difficult for people to breathe — especially those with chronic respiratory problems. For these patients, a functioning ventilator can mean the difference between life or death.

One of the major obstacles to ventilator production is the cost. A ventilator can cost hospitals up to $30,000.

A team at MIT has been working day and night to create an emergency ventilator that costs only $100 to produce. The ventilator uses a bag-valve resuscitator, a common hospital item.

A bag-valve resuscitator or Ambu bag, is a self-inflating, hand-operated resuscitator used by first-responders to temporarily help people having difficulty breathing before they are able to hook them up to a ventilator.

They're affordable, costing about $20.

via Wikimedia Commons

The MIT engineers created a mechanism that squeezes and releases the bag without needing a human operator. The big issue is that the ventilator has to be extremely reliable because any mechanical failure would surely result in death.

"The primary consideration is patient safety," one team member told SciTechDaily. "So we had to establish what we're calling minimum clinical functional requirements." The team members wish to remain anonymous to prevent any unnecessary attention that would delay their work.

The ventilator must also be adjustable to pump the correct amount of air given the patient's lung capacity.

The ventilator project didn't start from scratch. It was informed by a project done a decade ago by MIT students in a Medical Device Design class. The students published a paper outlining their design and testing, but the work stopped there.

The new team used their research as a jumping off point to make their ventilator.

via MIT

In just over a week, the team has gone from empty benches to a working prototype. Its prime motivator has been reports of doctors being forced to ration ventilators.

"We all work together, and ultimately the goal is to help people, because people's lives understandably hang in the balance," one team member says.

The engineers are currently looking to have the ventilator approved by the FDA.

"The Department of Health and Human Services released a notice stating that all medical interventions related to Covid-19 are no longer subject to liability, but that does not change our burden of care." he said. "At present, we are awaiting FDA feedback" about the project. "Ultimately, our intent is to seek FDA approval. That process takes time, however."

Ultimately, the team hopes to publish the plans for the device online so that other engineers can improve on their designs and to make the device available to hospitals across the globe.

via PixaBay

Being an adult is tough.

Nothing can ever fully prepare you for being an adult. Once you leave childhood behind, the responsibilities, let-downs and setbacks come at you fast. It’s tiring and expensive, and there's no easy-to-follow roadmap for happiness and success.

A Reddit user named u/Frequent-Pilot5243 asked the online forum, “What’s an adult problem nobody prepared you for?” and there were a lot of profound answers that get to the heart of the disappointing side of being an adult.

One theme that ran through many responses is the feeling of being set adrift. When you’re a kid, the world is laid out as a series of accomplishments. You learn to walk, you figure out how to use the bathroom, you start school, you finish school, maybe you go to college, and so on.

However, once we’re out of the school system and out from under our parents’ roofs, there is a vast, complicated world out there and it takes a long time to learn how it works. The tough thing is that if you don’t get a good head start, you can spend the rest of your life playing catch-up.

Keep Reading Show less

Katie Peters shared a day in the life of pandemic teaching and pleaded for teachers to be given grace.

Teachers are heroes under normal circumstances. During a pandemic that has upended life as we know it, they are honest-to-goodness, bona fide superheroes.

The juggling of school and COVID-19 has been incredibly challenging, creating friction between officials, administrators, teachers, unions, parents and the public at large. Everyone has different opinions about what should and shouldn't be done, which sometimes conflict with what can and cannot be done and don't always line up with what is and isn't being done, and the result is that everyone is just … done.

And as is usually the case with education-related controversies, teachers are taking the brunt of it. Their calls for safe school policies have been met with claims that kids aren't at risk of severe COVID, as if teachers' health and well-being are expendable. Parents' frustrations with remote or hybrid learning are taken out on the teachers who are constantly scrambling to adjust to ever-changing circumstances that make everything about teaching more complicated.

Superheroes, seriously.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Maxim Hopman on Unsplash

The Sam Vimes "Boots" Theory of Socioeconomic Unfairness explains one way the rich get richer.

Any time conversations about wealth and poverty come up, people inevitably start talking about boots.

The standard phrase that comes up is "pull yourself up by your bootstraps," which is usually shorthand for "work harder and don't ask for or expect help." (The fact that the phrase was originally used sarcastically because pulling oneself up by one's bootstraps is literally, physically impossible is rarely acknowledged, but c'est la vie.) The idea that people who build wealth do so because they individually work harder than poor people is baked into the American consciousness and wrapped up in the ideal of the American dream.

A different take on boots and building wealth, however, paints a more accurate picture of what it takes to get out of poverty.

Keep Reading Show less