Concern about a shortage of ventilators in hospitals treating COVID-19 patients brought out the inner tinkerer in University of Minnesota cardiac anesthesiology fellow Stephen Richardson. On a Saturday night in March, he got an idea. The next morning, he called Jim McGurran, ’17, M.B.A., a biomedical engineer friend who worked for MGC Diagnostics and proposed building a simple machine to fill the gap. “We had our first working prototype in seven hours,” he says.
With support from a donor-funded grant from the Office of Academic Clinical Affairs, a U of M crowdfunding campaign, and private businesses, Richardson and McGurran refined the design at the U of M’s Earl E. Bakken Medical Devices Center.
The result: a simple, low-cost ventilator, called the Coventor, that uses a motorized, self-inflating Ambu bag to assist with breathing.
See how quickly the Coventor was created: