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Gold Coast GP Dr Tom Challenger, with his newly designed low-cost ventilator. This working prototype, which can easily be re-produced with the help of a hands-on team, will not only assist doctors but will help to save lives around the world. Image: contributed

Gold Coast doctor produces low cost ventilator

In response to the global COVID-19 crisis and the urgent need for more ventilators,a prominent Gold Coast GP has created a low-cost ventilator, using easily accessible materials, that can be made overnight.

Dr Tom Challenger, director of ‘Challenger Mission’ said that he saw this urgent need and was prompted into action to help the sick and to aid doctors from around the world.

“As a doctor,I have colleagues all around the world in Italy, England, and Japan etc who have been overwhelmed (dealing with COVID-19) and the stories they have told are heartbreaking,” Dr Challenger said.

“They just can’t get enough ventilators and they are using medical students to bag patients (ventilating patients with manual resuscitators),” he said.

Doctor Challenger said that he sat down and thought the project through, before getting several anesthetists onboard to help come up with what they needed.

“With the cost of ventilators being between $20,000 -$30,000 each, the aim was to make something that was very low cost,with the designs being available (to access),” he said.

“Most of these (types of) projects that you see on the news – you can’t get the designs and you can’t get access to them,” he said.

“So, the prototype had to be low cost, $200 – $300, made from ‘off the shelf’ available parts and could be made overnight.

Dr Challenger, a former Citizen of the Year for his role in Community Health on the Gold Coast, said that the life-saving project took him three to four weeks working 16 hours a day, to complete.

He said that he envisaged these ventilators being produced by IT tech hubs, in a medical environment overseen by a doctor – not for use by ‘backyard enthusiasts’.

“We are not selling them like some other companies are – we will be giving the plans out for free,” he said.

“It’s going to get a lot of peoples noses out of joint; but we’re here fundamentally to try and save lives, not profit off it.

“It’s for immediate roll out for whoever wants to take it up overseas, preferably by doctors, and they can run teams to get it built.

“If you think about what ventilators really are; you’re trying to provide oxygen or air to a patient.

“It’s really quite basic.There are more ‘bells and whistles’on the very expensive ventilators, but for the basic ones, you really only need to control three things – administrating the oxygen at the correct volume, speed and pressure.

“These ventilators are created from locally available parts that are readily available and rapidly deployable.

“We’re not here to profit, we’re here to get it out and get the website out there, so thatdoctors in places like Turkey or New York, can find it quickly, see it and say ‘right lets get a team of guys to make some’ – and tomorrow they have it,” he said.


For more details visit the team:    CHALLENGER MISSION   –   RW PROMOTION