Volunteers collect CPAP machines to be repurposed into ventilators for COVID patients

Coronavirus

SAN DIEGO — A group of volunteers is collecting new and used CPAP machines to be repurposed into ventilators to help in the fight against a rampant second wave of COVID-19 in India. 

While the rest of world is starting to recover from COVID, India is deep in a devastating second wave.

“What we are hearing is more severe cases are coming,” said Dr. Kusum Atraye, who is leading the effort to ship the sleep apnea machines to remote parts of India. “The mortality rate is very high. People are getting more affected on the lungs — that’s why oxygen is needed.” 

The CPAP machines will be reconfigured into BPAP machines, or non-invasive ventilators.

“With COVID patients, lungs are collapsing. Just providing only oxygen is not helpful, so these machines with the pressure open up the lungs and then oxygen is delivered,” Atraye said.

The idea came from a doctor at Stanford University. It’s a cost-effective and fairly simple solution that has a huge impact toward saving lives. All it requires are a few new over-the-counter parts.

“Here in New York, some studies showed people who are on the BPAP machine with oxygen mortality rate was less compared to when people went on a ventilator,” Atraya said.

In Carmel Valley, volunteers are operating a donation drive, storing old CPAP machines in a garage, after hearing heartbreaking stories from their homeland.

“In the remote areas for somebody to get access to a ventilator bed they have to travel a distance for like hours and hours and sometimes they don’t make it alive,” said Manya Gaurav, a volunteer with IndiaCovidSOS.org.

Using a good old-fashioned drop box and grassroots social media efforts, they want to capitalize on the estimated 10 million CPAP machines believed to be sitting around in people’s homes. Sleep apnea patients get new CPAP machines every two or three years.

“Our effort is focusing on just to utilize something that maybe is lying around in someone’s house that they can be put to some good use and lives could be saved,” Gaurav said.

To donate a CPAP machine, click here.

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