University of Illinois

University of Illinois Creates Emergency Ventilator Prototype to Help Coronavirus Patients

The prototype has run for more than 75 hours, which is more than 125,000 breathing cycles delivering the amount of oxygen and pressure patients need

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The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Carle Health has produced a prototype emergency ventilator to help during the surge of respiratory care needed as a result of the coronavirus, the university announced.

The emergency ventilator is called the "Illinois RapidVent." It plugs into the oxygen source available in most hospital rooms or into a tank of oxygen, according to a statement on UIC's website.

William King, a professor at the Grainger College of Engineering and the Carle Illinois College of Medicine, is leading the project.

“Our team is living the Apollo 13 movie," he said. "We have dropped everything else to work around the clock to help respond to the COVID-19 crisis.”

The prototype has run for more than 75 hours, which is more than 125,000 breathing cycles delivering the amount of oxygen and pressure patients need when they cannot breath on their own, according to the university.

The project launched March 16 and has more than 40 people working on it, including engineers, doctors, medical professionals, designers, user-experience experts and manufacturing experts from the industry.

Dr. Emily Landon is the chief infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of Chicago Medicine, who moments after Pritzker issued the ordinance to take effect Saturday evening, took to the stand with a 7-minute-long speech that went viral after striking a chord for many individuals.

The school said the team is abiding by social-distance guidelines with the exception of a few small groups that have met in-person to test the prototype.

Dr. Karen White, an intensivist at Carle Foundation Hospital and a faculty member at the Carle Illinois College of Medicine, said coronavirus patients may struggle breathing because the virus impacts the lungs.

"Ventilators are necessary to help patients get more oxygen," she said. "That’s why we’re optimistic that by further developing the Illinois RapidVent we can develop more options for our sickest patients.”

According to U of I, the next step in the project will be identifying partners and resources to produce the Illinois RapidVent at scale.

“We have a team of brilliant and dedicated people that made something that actually works in less than one week. It’s very inspiring," King said. "We hope that we can engage even more people to work on the global response to COVID-19 as we continue to develop the prototype.”

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