Don Bosco Mandaluyong fast-tracks fabrication of low-cost ventilators
MANILA, Philippines – Don Bosco Technical College (DBTC), a Catholic school in Mandaluyong known for its technical excellence, has been using its expertise in producing much-needed medical equipment for frontliners battling the spread of the coronavirus disease.
For over two weeks, DBTC has fabricated face shields, washable face masks, personal protective equipment (PPE) gowns, PPE bunny suits, and aerosol boxes. The school distributed these items to hospitals all over Metro Manila and some nearby provinces, even reaching as far as Cainta and Cavite.
Aside from hospitals, other front line groups like barangay tanods, police, and soldiers have benefited from the materials assembled by the school. (READ: Filipino bayanihan spirit shines through amid coronavirus outbreak)
Spearheading Don Bosco’s contribution in the fight against the coronavirus is its school rector Fr Chito Dimaranan of the Salesians on Don Bosco. Tirelessly working at the production line are the scholars of Don Bosco’s Technical Vocational Education Training (TVET) Center.
The biggest game-changer in Don Bosco Mandaluyong's effort to fight COVID-19 is its bid to fabricate low-cost, quick-to-build ventilators. (READ: U.P. scientists making ventilators – DOH)
Ventilators were widely used in the successful COVID-19 campaigns of Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.
However, there are only less than 2,000 ventilators in the Philippines. These are not enough once the pandemic reaches its peak. Aware of the great need for ventilators, Dimaranan challenged alumni engineers of Don Bosco all over the world to fast-track solutions to this problem.
“I am mighty proud of our Bosconian alumni engineers from all over the world. They are on the cusp of producing a prototype open source ventilator…. They are based in Manila, Cebu, Singapore, USA and elsewhere,” Dimaranan said on Facebook.
“Not only will we produce it through donor funding, but also publish it for free so people can build it on their own,” he added.
Making this an open source project means anybody in the world can see the design, tweak it, or produce it themselves.
The fast-tracking of the ventilator development is a joint project of the Don Bosco Mandaluyong Alumni Association, led by Fletcher Von Aquino; and the Don Bosco Mandaluyong InnoVision Center, under Romel Pasia.
Dimaranan called for donations in cash and in kind to speed up the program.
Jose Pepito Amores, a Don Bosco alumnus who is now a clinician pulmunologist and is part of the project said: “Ventilators are needed by patients who cannot breathe because of deteriorating lung functions, such as pneumonia that leads to ARDS (acute respiratory distress syndrome). This is seen in COVID patients.”
'Tackling the problem in our own little way'
Another Don Bosco alumnus, Singapore-based engineer Marlou Madrio, is on top of designing the ventilator.
“A UP (University of the Philippines) study projects [COVID will reach its] maximum in 8 weeks. We need to do something before it’s too late. We have decided to tackle the problem in our own little way,” said Madrio.
By his estimate, Madrio said their ventilator design will cost P20,000 to produce.
He likens his group to the “rebel force alliance” in the Star Wars movies, “with engineers in Canada, the US, Cebu and Manila pitching in.”
“We are a rebel force alliance fighting an unseen enemy that is COVID-19 that knows no boundaries and does not distinguish your stature in life. It just kills. We are all committed to fight as one,” said Madrio.
Amores said the ventilators being designed by Don Bosco’s InnoVision Center “can help hospitals in the provinces which cannot buy ventilators that cost P700,000 to P1 million.”
Aquino said the school was also designing and building decontamination chambers. The target beneficiaries of these decontamination chambers are hospitals and quarantine centers.
“Decontamination chambers will save lives because these will stop the spread of COVID infections. These are important because COVID is highly communicable,” said Aquino.
He said they need more financial support to produce the lifesaving equipment.
As of last week’s tally, DBTC has also distributed 55,000 surgical masks, 9,800 surgical gloves, 2,384 booties and shoe covers, 1,770 PPE bunny suits and gowns, 1,622 N95 masks, and 220 goggles.
So far, the school has produced and delivered some 7,000 face shields.
Aside from producing supplies, Don Bosco Mandaluyong has also opened the school’s doors for free room and lodging for health care workers of Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Manila.
Earlier, St John Bosco Parish in Makati also offered free room and lodging to the healthcare workers of Makati Medical Center. – Rappler.com