A new ventilation device designed to help coronavirus patients has been given the go-ahead by the Welsh Government – with up to 100 per day due to be produced.
The device was designed by Dr Rhys Thomas, a consultant anaesthetist at Glangwili General Hospital in Carmarthen, and engineering company CR Clarke & Co, of Ammanford.
Dr Thomas used his military and hospital experiences in anaesthetics and resuscitation, as well as advice from doctors in Bergamo, Italy, to develop the equipment.
His CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine has already been used to treat a patient with coronavirus in Llanelli and they are now “recovering well”, he said.
The machine cleans viral particles, supplying only purified air to patients.
Dr Thomas said he was “desperately concerned” about a lack of intensive care unit (ICU) ventilators to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
He was contacted by Adam Price, the leader of Plaid Cymru, who put him in touch with CR Clarke & Co – an engineering company specialising in thermoforming and plastic fabrication equipment.
“After designing, constructing and trialling several prototypes in just three days, we came up with a device that worked perfectly,” Dr Thomas said.
“It is simple and robust and specifically designed to work against Covid virus in a contagious environment.
“Although it won’t replace an ICU ventilator, the majority of patients won’t need intensive care if they are treated with this ventilator first, releasing ICU ventilators for more serious Covid-19 cases and other general medical cases.
“The machine has other benefits in that it will clean the room of viral particles and only supply purified air to the patient.
“The patient can self-care as specialist nurses are not required, releasing them for other duties.
“On Saturday evening, we used the CPAP to treat a Covid-19 patient. It was a successful trial and I’m delighted to say that the patient is recovering well.”
The device, called a Covid emergency ventilator, has been given the go-ahead by the Welsh Government.
A total of 100 of the devices can be made each day.
Mr Price praised those involved in producing the device and said it placed Wales on the front foot in the battle against coronavirus.
The Assembly Member for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr said: “I cannot praise too highly Dr Rhys Thomas for his skill, his dedicated staff at Glangwili hospital who tested the device, as well as CR Clarke & Co for responding so swiftly.
“It’s fantastic that we have such brilliant expertise in Carmarthenshire to create and deliver this new device in volume at such short notice.
“I also commend the Welsh Government for its confidence in Dr Rhys’s ability by giving his life-saving device the immediate go-ahead for production.”
Ken Skates, minister for economy, transport and North Wales, said: “This product demonstrates brilliant innovative thinking and action at a time of national crisis.
“The Welsh Government and Industry Wales continue to work very closely with Dr Rhys Thomas and CR Clarke Betws to support the development of this potentially lifesaving device.”