Ventilator sharing device

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteers from the Institute for Manufacturing (IfM), University of Cambridge, responded to a request from clinicians at Royal Papworth Hospital to develop a device that, if needed in an emergency, could be attached to a ventilator to enable two COVID patients to receive tailored respiratory support.

The new device – which is still in testing and not yet approved for clinical use – illustrates that it is possible to split the air flow from one ventilator to mechanically support the breathing of two sedated patients with different lung capacity and changing breathing needs.


The IfM developed the solution in collaboration with Cambridge Design Partnership as well as Royal Papworth Hospital, with generous support from a wide selection of respiratory equipment manufacturers across the UK and the world.


The system was designed to incorporate respiratory parts that are available in the UK supply chain in a layout that facilitates parts to be easily changed and replaced. The overall ‘box unit’ provides isolated respiratory lines to two patients and enables quick assembly to a ventilator.


The IfM-designed readout meter delivers real-time measurement of tidal volume to each patient as well as monitoring the total pressure and airflow in the device. Easy-to-access valves enable fine tuning of air flow to match the requirements of each patient.


Initial details of the specification of the system are now freely available. This page will be updated with all the findings, full design and software when the tests are released so that if other communities across the world have to consider this emergency option in the event of a shortage of ventilators, they can copy and adapt the setup for their own needs.




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For further information please contact:

Jason Naselli

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