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Coast doctor’s incredible virus-busting invention

A GOLD Coast doctor has invented a $300 ventilator he says will help save lives during coronavirus-type epidemics.

Prominent GP and past Citizen of the Year Dr Tom Challenger began working on the low-cost ventilator when he saw the shortage of $25,000-50,000 machines worldwide.

The ventilators, used in intensive care units, give COVID-19 patients time to fight the disease by keeping them breathing.

But health officials warned of a critical shortage as the number of coronavirus cases rose. Dr Challenger said there was only five official producers of the machines worldwide.

"You could see immediately when there was the peak (of infections) in China what the issue was, it's that there's not enough ventilators," he said.

The machine can be built at almost no cost. Picture Glenn Hampson
The machine can be built at almost no cost. Picture Glenn Hampson

 

"So I talked to my colleagues in China and in England and they're going through absolute hell. Someone who's 65 and on a ventilator will get replaced with (someone younger), it's illogical.

"If that was your grandma, you're gonna be pretty pissed off.

"And what are we (doctors) here for? We're not here to make money, we're here to help people."

Dr Challenger believes his ventilator designs, one mechanical and one electronic, could be made for $200-300.

The ventilator pumps air into a patient's lungs via a standard hand pump and can use a variety of face masks.

"If you go back 50 years we didn't have all these bells and whistles, we made rudimentary simple stuff that worked," Dr Challenger said.

Dr Tom Challenger is distributing the plans for free. Picture Glenn Hampson
Dr Tom Challenger is distributing the plans for free. Picture Glenn Hampson

"When I started I rang a lot of anaesthetists and found what they thought was important, then I hired some mechanical engineers.

"We've been going back again and again to quite a few senior doctors to make sure what we've got works."

Asked by the Bulletin to look at the $300 design, Gold Coast Medical Association President Dr Philip Morris said: "It looks like it may have a role in third world countries that have limited finances and need a cheap version of (a ventilator)," he said.

"If it is safe and effective then it would be great for countries that are going to be needing ventilators on a large scale."

For more information about the ventilator and how to access the design visit challengermission.com

 

Originally published as Coast doctor's incredible virus-busting invention