Home Made Ventilators used during the Polio Epidemic

I recently posted a piece on my own blog about the use of home made ventilators during the polio epidemic of the late 1940s and early 1950s. Here is the link.

Home made Polio Epidemic Ventilators

The need for ventilators was greater than the supply, and it appeared that many people especially children would die as a result. Some of the original inventors and developers of ventilators including Drinker, produced designs for ventilators that could be built from easily obtainable components and constructed by craftsmen. These home built ventilators were used to save the lives of people who could not obtain a commercial ventilator to use in this emergency. There are pictures and assembly drawings of these ventilators.

The Pandemic Ventilator Project

February 3, 2008

3 responses to “Home Made Ventilators used during the Polio Epidemic”

  1. freadom says:

    Very interesting

  2. Jim Allen says:

    Wow…homemade ventilators!! On another note didn’t a well-known ventilator manufacturer make their vents out of old washing machine parts, retrofitted sauce pans, and copper dish scrubbers. Reminds me of yesteryear when adapters and vent rigging ruled.

    Speaking of humor…see how I’m weaving this in. Check out my new cartoon book for healthcare professionals. You can check it out and even order it, if you choose. More info?


  3. Michael Poulos says:

    I found the Pandemic Ventilator site after Googling “homemade ventilator” one recent day. Great idea! I have obstructive sleep apnea which it why I Googled it in the first place. I once made a homemade CPAP that did work. But it was awful loud due to the centrigugal blower. Given the pandemic possibility, now I embarked on the race. For the OSA, I can sleep on my side so far to alleviate it. If I relax on my back however, the OSA shows up just before I fall asleep, which allowed me to titrate the homemade CPAP. When I tested it, I intended to test it for 15 minutes but fell asleep during the test. I was on it for an hour and a half!

    I once also wanted to measure my idling metabolism rate and managed to make a calorimeter and made a spirometer in the prodess.

    On building a ventilator, I’ll have one for a pandemic if I need it.

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