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USF device helps two ventilated patients breathe at a time, could help with future ventilator shortages

The Eucovent is in the final stages of a patent now. The group says it could be in clinics in a year.

TAMPA, Fla. — In the direst situations, ventilators can save a life, but when there's a shortage, there's a problem.

"To see the need at Moffitt was, I think, really striking for us," USF graduate Abby Blocker said.

Moffitt Cancer Center went through its own struggles trying to save patients during the pandemic. Blocker is one of three University of South Florida students tasked with helping curb the shortage of ventilators during their final year of college.

"Moffitt had kind of put out the idea or the need for you know, some type of device to kind of help with this issue," Blocker said.

After months of planning, Abby, Carolyna and Jacob came up with 'The Eucovent.' The machine lets two patients share a single ventilator. 

Credit: Abby Blocker
Carolyna, Jacob, and Abby with their project mentors

"It's pretty much a device that allows us to direct the airflow. By doing that we can control the switch of the air that's being delivered to the patients," USF graduate Carolyna Yamamoto Alves Pinto said.

Some of the parts they designed and others they bought off the shelf. It took them three months to concept and create an idea that actually worked.

"We designed our own splitter so that the airflow can get directed properly and we made sure everything fit together with some really cheap parts that we found at Home Depot and Lowe's. Everything together is like, a small six by nine-box and everything just fits in," USF Graduate Jacob Yarinsky said.

After seeing it on for the first time, their mentors at Moffitt said the device has the ability to dramatically change patient care. It's already won some national competitions.

"There was this one student from India, he was like, 'How soon can you get this to my country?' They were going through a really bad phase right at that time," Yamamoto Alves Pinto said. 

But the device can go beyond COVID-19, helping doctors and nursing when resources could be strapped.

"Natural disasters and mass shootings are another time when co-ventilation the idea has kind of come about. Any with low resource settings also, so if you're in a rural area that only has you know, five ICU beds and five ventilators then you know that that can really help there as well," Blocker said.

The Eucovent is in the final stages of a patent now. The group says it could be in clinics in a year.

"We're not going to stop. We're going to keep developing it and see how far we go and maybe save someone's life," Yarinksy said.