Photo Credit: Yehonatan Valtser/TPS
Soldiers of the Home Front Command . Apr 13, 2020

Respirators developed by as special IDF team that use exiting machines will be been deployed at the Sheba Medical center in Tel Aviv, boosting Israel’s efforts to save patients severely affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

During the past month, a team of soldiers and officers from Unit 81, the Intelligence Division’s technological unit, collaborated with doctors at Sheba Medical Center and developed a system that enables the conversion of home respiratory assistance units to respirators for treating anesthetized Coronavirus (COVIS-19) patients in severe condition.

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“A month ago, the need for respiratory machines had increased,” says Dr. Amit Zabatani, the accompanying physician of the project at Sheba Hospital. “We started to think and see how we can solve the problem. We joined Unit 81 and with the help of intensive 24/7 work we were able to develop a technology, which was also patented.”

“Now, we are definitely ready for a scenario where they [the hospitals] will announce that the respirators have run out – and will move to use our solution,” he added.

Israel has currently some 140 Coronavirus patients on respirators and thousands of machines to spare, but is still preparing for a scenario in which thousands of patients will require the life-support machines.

The solution is based on converting home respiratory support units to a full respirator for anesthetized patients while addressing critical patient care characteristics.

After the conversion process, the system monitors all the important parameters for the physicians and provides them with the necessary information, alerts on the patient’s condition, an intrusion-breathing scheme, the prevention of pollutant emissions into the air and the introduction of extremely high percent oxygen feed capacity.

“We started development under the idea that we are working on high-availability products to provide in the shortest response time,” shared Major S., the head of the “Breathable Air” project. “That’s why we’re not talking about producing a device, but about connecting a component to devices that are already available in hospitals and manufacturers worldwide.”

The challenge the team faced was not only creating a unit but a simple one that does not require a lot of monitoring, one that can also be operated on by doctors that this is not their main specialty, Major S. explained.

100 units will be delivered to the Sheba Hospital on Sunday, and hundreds of kits will be handed over to the Ministry of Health.

Hundreds of units will be produced every week, as required by the health system.

“We see this as a supreme goal and of course we would love to contribute and share our knowledge, thus helping countries who are shot as well,” said Major S.

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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.