Government officials trying to track down ventilators for people sick with COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, may soon have a reason to breathe a little easier.
A health care provider in South Carolina has created a device that allows a single ventilator to support up to four patients at a time ― a necessity during times of acute equipment shortages.
The Vesper, or ventilation expansion splitter, can be produced cheaply with a 3D printer, according to a press release by Prisma Health, the state’s largest health care provider. The Vesper attaches to the ventilator and splits out the oxygen to patients. It also allows the flow of oxygen to be adjusted and optimized for each person.
The idea for the device came from Dr. Sarah Farris, an emergency physician and faculty member at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville. She discussed the need for a ventilator expander with her husband, Ryan, a software engineer, and they designed the Vesper in concert with a pulmonologist, according to GreenvilleOnline.com.
The device was created last week and was approved for emergency use by the Federal Drug Administration on Monday.
It’s only meant for use in emergency situations when access to a ventilator could be a life-and-death matter.
Prisma Health President and CEO Mark O’Halla said the company is proud of its “potentially life-saving solution” and is “anxiously awaiting the results of the prototype field tests.”
Hospitals can apply to get access to the free source code and printing specifications for the device by registering here.
Priority will be given to areas of the country where hospitals are close to or have exceeded their current ventilator capacity.
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost.