A Malaysia-born American mechanical engineer has offered to provide his invention - a breathing support device that will help avoid the need for full ventilation for COVID-19 patients, free of charge to countries hit by the pandemic.

Guruthisvaran Ramu, 34, spoke to news portal Free Malaysia Today (FMT) about the device, named EcoFlo.

The continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine uses air pressure to keep a patient's airways open, as opposed to a ventilator at a hospital's intensive care unit (ICU) that requires patients to be intubated.

According to Guru, EcoFlo can be used to help COVID-19 patients with breathing difficulties at home, in transit to hospital, and while awaiting treatment in the triage room.

"I would like to hand out the units to hospitals and medical staff at no cost to them.

"Our goal is to make the design and manufacturing details of EcoFlo free and available to the entire world so that manufacturers in developing countries can produce it for their own citizens," Guru told FMT.

Guru, who is the president and CEO of Mach 33 Engineering based in Maryland, and a contractor with US space agency NASA, intends to build 1,000 units of EcoFlo with his team of nine other engineers to donate to hospitals and first responders in countries hit hard by the pandemic, as soon as the relevant regulatory agencies have greenlit the project.

According to the report, Guru teamed up with his childhood friend, emergency medicine doctor Prabhu Selvam, to work on the ventilator project about a year before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. However, the duo switched to building a CPAP device when the coronavirus cases started surging around the world.

"We did not want to patent the concept because we wanted EcoFlo to be freely available to all.

"Besides helping to save lives, it will ensure that ventilators, a limited resource, are used only for the most severely ill," Guru told FMT.

It cost about US$250 (RM1,035) to fabricate EcoFLo, while hospital-based CPAP machines cost between US$6,000 and US$10,000 or more, to help patients with lung dysfunction.

"Part of the issue with COVID is that it prevents normal breathing, and this device will measure the amount that you can breathe in, and judge whether you need more air or not.

"We are now trying to buy components through crowdfunding and will fund the effort ourselves if we are unable to raise additional money in time."

Guru'family migrated to the US 30 years ago, about the same time as Prabhu's family.

Source & Photos source: FMT