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Kingston academics, health professionals join forces for ‘Code Life’ ventilator challenge

Faculty and students from Queen’s University as well health care professional take part in Code Life ventilator challenge
WATCH: A Kingston team takes the ventilator challenge.

It’s an undertaking with plenty of meaning, especially during these times.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, faculty and students at Queen’s University have joined forces with health professionals from Kingston’s Health Sciences Centre to take on the “Code Life” ventilator challenge.

The challenge is a two week-sprint created by the Montreal General Hospital Foundation in collaboration with the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre. Sonja Pejcic is a Masters Student in Mechanical and Materials Engineering.

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“Our goal was to design a simple to use low-cost ventilator that can be manufactured in a quick amount of time, a very short time line, which we accomplished,” Pejcic told Global News.

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“We made a prototype within 10 days.”

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Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Dr. Tim Bryant is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering and Human Mobility Research Centre.

“The challenge has been a whirlwind of design, testing, building,” Bryant explained. “You’ll see from some of the video that it is actually come about to something that is actually a workable solution.”

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And when it was all said and done, a team of 18, all working towards a real-life goal, pulled it off. Pejcic says they made use of an already pre-approved medical device called a CPAP, a device that provides continuous positive pressure.

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“What we do, we connect two in series in order to get a high enough level of pressure that would imitate a breath for a human, and then what we do is with those two CPAPS we control basically the inspiration, expiration through a flexible tube,” she explained.

“So we close and open a flexible tube to mimic a breath and then these tubes are connected to standard hospital masks and intubation equipment, and that’s basically what breathes for a patient.”

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Bryant says the device isn’t ready to hook it up to a patient.

However, he does say the idea of the challenge was to get as far as you can in two weeks and then release these designs to other groups that may be interested in moving it forward.

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