Inspired by Sachin Tendulkar, 20-year-old Sachin Sharma always dreamt of following in the cricket legend’s footsteps. His passion for the sport made him popular in his locality, where he was known for his batting style. Little did he know that instead of being on the field, he would end up spending his entire life on a bed.
Suffering from cervical spine disease, he has been on ventilator support at the neurosurgery ward of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) for the last four years, and will possibly require it all his life. Sachin’s family has been unable to take him home as it would involve buying the ventilator, which costs around Rs 5-10 lakh — a sum they couldn’t afford.
Now, an advanced portable ventilator developed in the medical institute by a neurosurgeon and a robotics engineer this year, has given the family some hope. The device, equipped with a tablet, has been successfully tested on Sachin.
“The home version of this ventilator will cost the family around Rs 35,000 as they don’t need a tablet and can connect it on their android phones. We are training the family on how to use the device… They are very excited to take him back home,” said inventor Dr Deepak Aggarwal, professor of neurosciences, AIIMS.
Device detects breathing pattern and monitors vitals
Designed in the shape of a bluetooth speaker, the ventilator is considered more patient-friendly and requires very little space, unlike the traditional life-support machine. It automatically detects breathing pattern and has a feature that alerts the attendant if there’s a problem. The cost of the advanced portable ventilator starts from Rs 45,000, and it comes fixed with a tablet that displays vitals such as blood pressure, pulse, etc. The portable ventilator will also help hospitals meet shortage of beds. A large number of patients put on ventilators have to continue staying in hospitals as their families cannot afford the traditional life-saving machine for home.
“The traditional ventilator is heavy and needs a constant supply of oxygen… the daily expense is Rs 5,000-6,000. This advanced machine works on room air. For the last four years, we have been living without Sachin. We can’t wait to bring him back,” said his father, Kishan Lal Sharma.
AIIMS is the first hospital in the capital to successfully use it on patients.
According to experts, the machine requires minimum electricity to run. “It is equivalent to 100 watts, which means using two tube lights. There is no need for a special technician to run these ventilators,” said Professor Diwakar Vaish, robotics scientist and co-inventor of the ventilator.
Dr Aggarwal added, “The use of imported equipment raises the cost of treatment in every hospital. Instead of using a machine owned by a private player, we have taken a small step by designing a machine of our own.”
Lying next to Sachin is 14 year-old Rohit Basak, who has also been put on the advanced portable ventilator. Hailing from Bihar, he was admitted in March after he fell from a bicycle and suffered an injury to his spine.
“We are learning from each other. Doctors are training us… With the help of this machine, we can get him back to Bihar. The cost of living in Delhi is too high,” said his father Shambu Lal Basak.
The boys wish to leave the hospital soon. “Sachin has been responding extremely well to the ventilator. His enthusiasm to go home is reflected in his eyes, as he moves them while looking at the portable machine,” added Dr Aggarwal.