NASHVILLE, Tenn.(WKRN) – Dr. Bolanle Asiyanbola remembers the moment she heard the news COVID-19 ravaged Italy.
“I put myself in the position of those doctors making decisions on who lives and who dies,” Asiyanbola recalls.
Decisions, she says, no one should be forced to make, “It just occurred to me that there are so many things in this world that we can’t change, but having a ventilator shouldn’t be one of them.”
From more than 5,000 miles away Dr. Asiyanbola, a surgeon and professor at Meharry Medical College, got to work.
“I felt like I could make a ventilator, so that’s what I did,” she said with a smile.
Dr. Asiyanbola called on her colleagues at Tennessee State University and an outside vendor for their input.
“The thinking was, firstly, make it fully automated. I got an engineer and we built the first version together,” said Asiyanbola.
Relying on her more than 20 years in medicine, she critiqued her work. “I wasn’t satisfied. For it to be really useful, to deliver ventilation to patients, it needs more functions. So, we started on version two.”
From there, Dr. Asiyanbola perfected a novel breathing machine prototype that could be used in disaster situations to ventilate a patient. Her goal is to have the invention approved, and to market, as quickly as possible.
If another surge of COVID-19 does happen, Dr. Asiyanbolah wants the world ready without the need to share resources.
“In the case where we’re thinking about transporting ventilator from city to city and country. That first of all expose, the people transporting to the risk of infection or transmission and also takes up logistical resources. This might help to fill the gap.”
And, she hopes, saves lives in the process.
COVID-19 in Tennessee
(This reflects what the TDH is reporting each day at 2 p.m. CST for every county other than Davidson. Information for Davidson comes from the Metro Public Health Department.)