Device designed by Taiwanese doctor adopted in the Philippines

03/24/2020 02:06 PM
Photo courtesy of Anton Legaspi
Photo courtesy of Anton Legaspi

Taipei, March 24 (CNA) An improvised protective device for use when intubating patients designed by Taiwanese doctor Lai Hsien-yung (賴賢勇) is being adopted in the Philippines to help doctors there stay safe amid the worsening new coronavirus pandemic.

"We made this acrylic aerosol box for my sister Dr. Frances Legaspi for Antipolo Doctors Hospital. Thanks to Dr. Lai Hsien-yung for the concept and design," Anton Legaspi, whose family owns a business that makes customized designs, said on Facebook Monday.

The Antipolo Doctors Hospital is located in Antipolo City, about 25 kilometers east of Manila.

Legaspi's Facebook post came with several photos of the box and a short demonstration video that was shot in the hospital. As of Tuesday morning, his post was shared more than 60 times.

The "Aerosol Box" designed by Lai, an anesthesiologist with Mennonite Christian Hospital in Hualien, Taiwan, is a transparent cube made of acrylic that covers a patient's head during endotracheal intubation, a necessary procedure for patients with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) who suffer respiratory failure.

It has two holes on one side through which physicians can insert their hands to perform the procedure while being shielded from the patient's respiratory droplets.

Lai shared his design on Facebook and gave permission for its use for non-commercial purposes on Saturday. His invention was reported by CNA and several other media outlets in Taiwan.

As to Legaspi and his sister, an emergency room doctor, they learned of the device on Sunday night through shared posts on social media and came out with the prototype the next morning, overcoming challenges brought by the ongoing lockdown in Metro Manila, Legaspi told CNA in an interview Tuesday.

"We were lucky enough to get a supplier who had available stocks of raw materials. The workers at the shop live at the factory, so we were able to make it," Legaspi said.

His sister asked Legaspi if he could make such a box because it was needed at the hospital as supplies of personal protective equipment in the Philippines are running low, he said.

As of Monday afternoon, there were 462 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines, with 33 deaths and 18 patients who have recovered.

In Legaspi's version, the holes of the aerosol box were made bigger to accommodate bigger arms. Other suggestions he got from people in the medical field include making a small flap on the open side, for additional maneuverability and protection, according to Legaspi.

Donors and acrylic suppliers have pledged support for the production of the device, which will be donated to public and private hospitals around the country, he said.

The cost of making each aerosol box is estimated at 1,500 pesos (US$32), lower than Lai's estimated cost of roughly NT$2,000 (US$66).

"It would be nice to have it mass produced to cater to many more patients. It may still be used even after the COVID-19 pandemic," he said.

(By Emerson Lim)

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