Isinnova is a 3D-printer company in Italy, where the coronavirus pandemic has hit really hard. But during these rough times, the company stepped up as heroes and did an incredible thing to save lives.
A hospital in Brescia had 250 coronavirus patients in intensive care. Respirator valves are designed to be used for a maximum of eight hours at a time, and when they needed more, the medical supplier was unable to provide new valves quickly enough to treat the patients. The hospital then reached out to Isinnova chief executive Cristian Fracassi with the help of Italian journalist Nunzia Vallini. Fracassi knew he just had to do what he could to help.
Fracassi and mechanical engineer Alessandro Romaioli created a prototype in just three hours. It was tested on a patient and when it was found to work, they joined forces with Lonati, another local 3D-printer company to print the valves.
Fracassi says: “The valve has very thin holes and tubes, smaller than 0.8m – it’s not easy to print the pieces. Plus you have to respect not [contaminating] the product – really it should be produced in a clinical way. We haven’t slept for two days. We’re trying to save lives.”
As of March 14th, the valves saved the lives of at least 10 patients. And despite the fact that they are creating them for free and not releasing the design to the public, a medical device manufacturer is threatening to sue them because the valves typically cost $1,000 yet they printed them for about $1. That should say more about the cost of medical devices than the heroes who stepped up.
Italy needed this heroic, brace move and they might continue to need more amazing things to happen. There have been nearly 3,000 deaths in Italy. One region, Lombardy had 319 deaths in just one day. And even after two weeks of lockdown, the numbers continue worsening. The death toll increased by 475 in just one day from Tuesday, March 17th to Wednesday, March 18th.
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