By Gavin Gibbon
Consultant anesthesiologist, Dr Ali Zahran, has found a simple way to treat more patients needing urgent ventilation
A chronic shortage of ventilators during the current coronavirus pandemic has left health professionals across the world with a gut wrenching decision on who should live and who should die.
However, Dr Ali Zahran, consultant anesthesiologist at Emirates Specialty Hospital in Dubai Healthcare City, has come up with a simple and safe way to treat more patients from a single machine.
He told Arabian Business: “My idea was how to convert, or to use your resources to help more people, because if you order a ventilator now, you’re not going to get it.
“Any ventilator has one port, an inspiratory port and an expiratory port. We can convert using a very simple plastic piece with two ports, just attach it to the ventilator and this way you can help two patients instead of one.
“This depends of the capacity of your ventilator. If the ventilator will deliver, let’s say, like ours, 2,000ml of volume then it’s good for approximately four adults, because each of us take about 500ml in each breath.
“This way we can use one ventilator to deliver ventilation for four patients. There is a chance for those who need a ventilator, who will have their chance of survival.
The global health crisis has exposed a shortage of ventilators - the equipment health-care providers rely on to keep critically sick patients alive, with companies such as Ford Motor Co., General Motors and Dyson rushing help ramp up production.
“When you have a pandemic and you have an influx of patients who are critically ill and they need ventilation to save their lives, you need more ventilators,” said Zahran. “That was the problem in other countries, especially in Europe, when they did not have enough ventilators for the patients and they had very hard decisions to say to some patients, sorry, we can’t help you, you have to die without any help.”
Italy and Spain are currently among the hardest hit in Europe, with 26,644 and 23,190 deaths respectively, while the Covid-19 virus is wreaking mayhem through the US, with President Donald Trump predicting over 100,000 deaths.
In the UAE, there are currently 10,349 confirmed cases and 76 deaths.
Dr Zahran, who is originally from Jordan, but worked in the US and Canada before moving to Dubai two years ago, is more used to working with elective procedures, anesthesia and taking care of ICU cases.
However, that was before coronavirus.
He said: “It’s a big stress. Physical work, I’m used to it; hard work, I’m used to it. But the stress, you have to be very cautious when you touch anything, you have to think twice about doing anything, more even. Our lives is not as before. We don’t feel that freedom as before in terms of working and dealing with others.
“It is (scary), but you have no choice.”
Dr Zahran lives with his wife and two sons, aged five and nine, while his mother is also in Dubai, having visited from Jordan before the lockdown and subsequently become stuck in the emirate.
“My concern is about myself for sure, but not because I’m selfish, because I have family. I have my mum living with me, I have my kids and they are really at high risk of the infection,” he added.