Welsh doctor uses military experience to design ventilator that will help coronavirus patients

Ventilators that could save the lives of thousands of people with coronavirus across the UK are being made in Carmarthenshire.

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WalesOnline reports the device has been designed by a senior consultant at Glangwili Hospital in Carmarthen and an engineering company in Ammanford.

The device, called a Covid Emergency Ventilator, has been given the go ahead by the Welsh Government and it is hoped that a hundred of them can be manufactured in just a day, something that could potentially save a huge number of lives.

The machine helps patients to breathe and also cleans a room of viral particles, ensuring that patients are only supplied with purified air.

It has already been used to treat a patient in Llanelli on Saturday evening who had tested positive for coronavirus. That patient is now said to be “recovering well”.

The man behind the design, consultant anaesthetist Dr Rhys Thomas, said the device would not replace ICU ventilators, but rather it would be used before patients required intensive care treatment, and, in the majority of cases, that care would not then be needed if they were treated with the Covid Emergency Ventilator first.

Incredibly, the new device came to fruition after only three days, thanks to Rhys Thomas’ military and civilian experience in anaesthetics and resuscitation, CR Clarke & Co in Betws, Ammanford, and advice from doctors who are fighting the coronavirus outbreak in Bergamo, Italy.

Rhys Thomas said “I was desperately concerned about the lack of intensive care unit (ICU) ventilators to deal with the inevitable pandemic.

“Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price challenged me to come up with a simpler but potentially as effective device, and put me in touch with Maurice Clarke of CR Clarke & Co – an engineering company specialising in thermoforming and plastic fabrication equipment.

“After designing, constructing and trialling several prototypes in just three days, we came up with a device that worked perfectly. It is simple and robust and specifically designed to work against Covid virus in a contagious environment.

“Although it won’t replace an ICU ventilator, the majority of patients won’t need intensive care if they are treated with this ventilator first, releasing ICU ventilators for more serious Covid-19 cases and other general medical cases.

“The machine has other benefits in that it will clean the room of viral particles and only supply purified air to the patient. The patient can self-care as specialist nurses are not required, releasing them for other duties.”

Now that production has been green lit, the Covid Emergency Ventilator will be made for and used by patients with coronavirus in hospitals across Wales. It is hoped they could also then be sent to hospitals across the UK, something that Adam Price said puts Wales on the front foot in the battle against the virus.

He said “This has been a truly amazing achievement.

“I cannot praise too highly Dr Rhys Thomas for his skill, his dedicated staff at Glangwili Hospital who tested the device, as well as CR Clarke & Co for responding so swiftly.

“It’s fantastic that we have such brilliant expertise in Carmarthenshire to create and deliver this new device in volume at such short notice.

“I also commend the Welsh Government for its confidence in Dr Rhys’ ability by giving his life-saving device the immediate go-ahead for production. This is an outstanding example of co-operation at its best.

“It shows that Wales, as a small nation, can get things done quickly as we face the biggest challenge of our generation.”

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