Inventor, Take a Deep Breath and Help America Fight This Pandemic with Your Patented Medical Idea
The current (and future) pandemics are telling reminders of the importance of “air” to the human condition. COVID-19 and other airborne viruses are terrifying proteins which invade our lungs and affect our ability to breathe. When this happens, hospital operating rooms rely on advanced automated ventilator machines to help our loved ones breathe by getting oxygen into the lungs and removing carbon dioxide.
These “breathe delivery technologies” are marvels of modern science, first made possible by aviator and inventor, Dr. Forrest Bird, who studied the breathing issues of World War II pilots and later pioneered the first wave of portal and reliable mechanical ventilators for people with lung problems, including chronic infections.
He authored a wave of patents including a famous submission entitled “Apparatus for Mechanical Ventilation of a Patient” in 1969. This particular patent describes a machine composed of respirators, patient adaptors and supporting pneumatic belts, illustrating his creative approaches to helping our lungs breathe using mechanical devices.
This rich arena of innovation has evolved into mind-numbing advances in technology, including the latest range of machines from Medtronic (now part of Covidean) that include the Puritan Bennett™ 980 Ventilator. These smart machines include software that considers how a patient is breathing and enables the patient to determine the rate, depth and timing of each breath. Covidean, by the way, purchased one of my client’s patented surgical tools for over $100 million again demonstrating the power of patents and intellectual property in helping entrepreneurs’ profit from their medical ideas.
Yet despite our medical device sophistication in this century, the present COVID-19 pandemic highlights the significant gaps that remain in our healthcare system. This includes a shortage of ventilator machines that prompted the president to invoke the Defense Production Act to order companies like General Motors to help in the manufacturer of ventilators.
It also highlights the incredible opportunities that exist for enterprising garage inventors both within and outside the medical sector, to contribute new patented ideas that reshape the assisted-breathing apparatus sector. The Defense Production Act is not just a call to arms to American manufacturers, it is also a tacit admission that America craves ingenious solutions to complex problems that traditional medical companies have not been able to solve in short timeframes.
Consider for a moment, Dr. Bird’s first steps towards building his respirator prototype: It was composed of strawberry shortcake tins and a doorknob! The incredible simplicity of his approach was probably ridiculed at first. In fact, for several years he tested his “garage ventilator” on several patients without success. But this determined inventor kept plugging away until he finally produced the Bird Universal Medical Respirator that would find favor in hospitals across the world, ultimately becoming a medical device best seller!
More importantly, his patented medical idea, affectionally nicknamed The “Babybird” respirator, reduced infant mortality due to respiratory problems from 70 percent to less than ten percent, a remarkable achievement.
His philosophy towards his work should inspire all medical inventors. He once wrote:
“I work as if I were going to be the next person to need a respirator. I share in the benefits I bestow on others, and my work has enriched my life.
America is currently in dire need of problem solvers like Dr. Forest Bird. If you have a simple idea that may help health workers on the frontline of this pandemic I urge you to take the first steps towards patenting, prototyping and manufacturing your idea.