Houston, we have a problem
Right now there is a serious shortage of mechanical ventilators in hospitals. And even if there were enough, chances of survival after being put on a ventilator are only about 50%.
On top of that, there is a big question if airlines can survive the crisis as they have planes grounded and no one knows what to do with them.
There is evidence that hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) can be used to reduce the likelihood of serious complications due to corona virus because it supplies the body with high concentration oxygen at high pressures, which means that it can be absorbed faster than normal and bypass hemoglobin to get around the body. Besides that it works anti inflammatory, therefore reducing the stress on a patient's body, during the critical days.
Now the problem is, that there are very few hyperbaric chambers around, where such a therapy would be possible. So our solution suggests re-purposing currently grounded airplanes into fully functioning hyperbaric chambers.
Why airplanes? 🤨
First of all, they are grounded and have nothing to do, but more importantly, they are already equipped with everything that is needed:
|Sustaining high pressures at altitudes ✔|
|Pressurizing the cabin ✔|
|Oxygen supply lines ✔|
|Oxygen masks ✔|
|People trained to work in such conditions ✔|
What happened during the weekend?
First we explored the idea of using hyperbaric oxygen in medicine and then specifically in the case of CoVid-19. Though we quickly stumbled at the fact that there are just not enough hyperbaric chambers around to deal with such a massive crisis.
Then we looked at the first (or second, if you prefer submarines) obvious solution. The airplane. We also saw that there is a campaign going behind this idea in the United states. Then we took the idea, put it in a model airplane and presented it to the world.
Our solution would reduce the stress on the supply of mechanical ventilators, which means that medical personnel won’t have to choose which people get them and which don’t. It will also bypass the time and stress that is associated with mechanical ventilation, both on the medical staff and on their loved ones.
The idea can also help with space in hospitals, employing people and help airline companies with getting through the crisis. In short: ultimately leading to fewer deaths and faster recovery from the crisis.
Where to next?
First of all, there needs to be more research done on the specific effects that hyperbaric pressures or high concentrations of oxygen have on patients with COVID-19. There has been some research done by Dr. Zhong Yianling in Wuhan and clinical trials are beginning in New York and Canada. But there is a lack of research in this field. Specifically a Canadian firm called Lungfish Dive systems, is moving ahead with clinical trials of using airplanes for this specific purpose. And of course, there is the need to get airline companies on board with the idea. 🛫
Our approximate estimate of the investment for a 20-patient plane is € 200,000 for 6 month. We have considered the price of the compressor and the cost we have with 60 trial therapies but did not take into account the price of the airplane (which is approximately 120.000€ per month).
And when this is all over?
According to the current situation, everyone is aware that similar situations can reach us every year or maybe even more often. That is why our solution is not aimed exclusively at the corona virus. After the crisis it could be used on other corona virus type diseases (SARS, MERS, ...), and also on completely unrelated problems with breathing like complications with pneumonia.
All those airplane graveyards could be put to good use with this technology or maybe even newer planes. For example Boeing 737 max, which had to be grounded, could be used for this purpose. It is important to stress that hyperbaric chambers are used elsewhere as well like in research purposes, healing, relaxation, sports… the possibilities are endless.