Marek Macner did some sports, including scuba diving, during his free time before he was diagnosed with Lymphoma. When Covid-19 swept over the world, continent by continent, he knew he had to step up to the plate.
He had been in the medical field and knew of easy solutions like a helmet based ventilator that can turn things around at a much faster pace. His passion and vision convinced his friends, family, and acquaintances to help out.
Marek Macner’s daughter, Karolina, is working in a bank in New York City, the hardest-hit city in the United States, and she knew her father was deep-diving into Covid-19 solutions back home in Poland. Physically separated only by geographical distance, she found ways to help her father spread his message thanks to her exposure and knowledge in online strategies.
And that’s when they found a group of enthusiasts who were geared for the same mission - to help people all around the world with their skills, experiences, and knowledge. All for pennies for the dollar.
Marek Macner is actively helping to curb the Covid-19 death rate from his home in a suburb of Poland. Through the Facebook group "NIV Helmet Manufacturing Project to Combat COVID-19" and other online means, connections were made with people of like-mind from all around the world. It was fuel to his fire.
The condition of his health was no deterrent, that’s how urgently he saw the mission.
The Beginnings of the Mission
Many have shared before him about the feasibility of using basic scuba diving gear to efficiently deliver oxygen to patients with respiratory ailments. When the world was first confronted with a worldwide pandemic that involved robbing a patient of his or her lifeline - oxygen - he wanted to tip the scales.
This is not the first time the use of scuba diving gear for purposes other than diving has come in handy. Some have combined the practical use of diving gear with 3D printed plumbing supplies to deliver cost-effective masks for Covid-19 and respiratory patients.
After all, the idea is to control the oxygen supply and contamination level around the Coronavirus patient as quickly and efficiently as possible.
His staid support for communities, groups, and individuals who are also actively helping others saw him connecting with global citizens who have invested time and money into coming up with their own affordable versions of helmet ventilation systems. He shares much of his discoveries, data, and designs on Facebook.
Heartened by the commitment and sacrifices of those around him and around the world, he has designed prototypes, samples, and complete helmet ventilators right from his home studio.
Those designs free to download on his website.
The Red Tape Problems of the ‘Unconventional’
The helmet based ventilators are proven, workable solutions for respiratory patients in many parts of Europe and the United States. They have even received positive feedback from government bodies in Europe for treating Covid-19 patients.
As noted by Marek in his interview, getting the documentation and certification done takes time.
Working closely with government officials and local administration is dragging things out. In some parts of the world, however, ‘improvised PPE’ has made it past the red tapes with FDA. They're leaving behind a path of breadcrumbs to something awesome.
Like many others, Marek is also planning, designing, and producing his own armory of helmet based ventilators to scale up the production due to the urgency of the situation.
Zeroing In On Helping Those In Need
Marek, however, is undeterred by the obstacles and delays standing in his way. A one-man-show, he designs helmet based ventilators in his home studio with the help of a 3D printer. His helmets have, so far, been delivered to hospitals although the supply could have been upped.
Beyond that, Marek, with the help of his daughter, freely shares his designs and ideas online with others, in hope of helping those who are in desperate need.
Marek is, as far as he can tell, the only person in Poland to be making helmet based ventilators despite the continued shortages of ventilators in his home country.
“Doctors have to make very difficult decisions every day - who gets to live, who does not. The doctors and physicians in Italy and everywhere around the world, are forced to play God because of the shortage of ventilators,” he shares thoughtfully.
And he’s right.
Being in such an unenviable position can leave a deep, long-lasting psychological effect on those who make those decisions.
Passionate About Spreading the Word
Like many others in his network, Marek is passionate and all-in when it comes to helping those in need. He knows that with the use of the helmet based ventilators, people will be safer. It is very possible to increase the chances of survival and efficiency of the treatment of Covid-19 patients all around the world.
The helmet can be used as a medical device, not at home but in hospitals under the watchful eyes of trained doctors and nurses.
Producing the helmets is not the problem because it can be assembled and tested very quickly. Within a more respectable time frame, the helmets can be ready for dispatch to hospitals, beating the clock, getting them to those in need faster than the virus.
Marek has met a lot of like-minded people who knew the inner workings of a helmet based ventilators and they’ve remained in contact. They’ve, however, been reduced to doing their own things in their homes (or wherever possible).
Their main motivation is to try to help as many people in need as possible.
Part of the bid is to get the backings from world organizations and local governments and hospitals.
Beating the Virus at its Own Game
When the virus took hold of the world of medical science, the focus was on intubation.
Some in the industry believe that intubation may not be the best choice.
QUOTE: “This is not to say that the pathophysiology underlying it is similar, but clinically they look a lot more like high-altitude sickness than they do pneumonia,” Kyle-Sidell said in a Medscape interview.
Frontliners have been saying, time and time again, that non-invasive intubation for Covid-19 and other similar patients should be made more easily available to save more lives. The main goal should be to avoid intubation as much as possible.
The message seems to be coming through stronger and stronger by the day as data streams out from severely affected countries.
In Italy, a country with 213,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases and nearly 30,000 deaths (accurate at the point of writing), revealed that 20% to 30% of their patients had benefited from using helmet based ventilators.
These figures should not be sidelined or ignored. More data will be coming out as we continue this fight against the virus.
Not only are helmet based ventilators better at decreasing the need for ventilators (and reduce the number of critical patients), if released and made available on time, these non-invasive ventilators will reduce the number of unnecessary deaths.
The efficiency of a Helmet Based Ventilator
There are many benefits to using a helmet based ventilator but the biggest one is that they’re easy to assemble and are affordable.
The downside? The resistance.
The helmet based ventilation system is an approach and method that is unfamiliar and not widely accepted (yet) in the medical field.
If these inventors can produce working ventilation systems from their homes, with simple 3D printers and available designs and documentation, we know we can do more in drastically-affected countries.
Innovators like Marek are producing these solutions on their own because of their commitment to helping those in need. If Marek can produce thousands of helmets in weeks, with the help of his family members and friends, big manufacturers like high capacity equipment can during the twilight hour!
These helmets are already well-known in many parts of the world in the medical field. We have doctors who worked abroad on Covid-19 cases who are already trained on the usage of these helmet based ventilators. The problem arises when they come back to their home countries, such as in the case in Poland, there are no helmets available.
In fact, helmets are made in the United States are sometimes shipped out to countries like Spain, Ukraine, and South Africa, just to name a few.
Getting the Word Out
Considering this, that word needs to go out. More people need to know about the usefulness, efficiency, and high-performance level of helmet based ventilators for Covid-19 and respiratory illness patients like pneumonia. After all, helmet ventilators have been in use for more than 30 years in some parts of Europe.
Technology played a big part in connecting these passionate, innovative individuals and groups together. Now, it is all about maneuvering their way around the red tapes and full-stops in the industry.
Marek’s endeavors should be a shining example to people all around the world. By making his designs available on his website free of charge, he is showing the world that we need more people who care.
Even as we speak, news of 15 children in New York who were hospitalized, possibly linked Covid-19-linked, has been making its rounds.
QUOTE: “Since being hospitalized, five of them have needed a mechanical ventilator to help them breathe, and most of the 15 “required blood pressure support.”
In times like these, even individual states within the United States are fighting amongst themselves to attain the much-needed ventilators. We have to put in the paces and step up against this phantom virus to reach as many people in need as possible.
A Possible Reprieve, Not Yet The End
As we approach the summer months, some countries may go through a short respite from the Covid-19 onslaught. However, in smaller countries, in sidelined villages and locked-down countries, they face an even more dire need for help and outside aid.
The saving grace may come from these small groups of groups and good samaritans who are already working on helmet based ventilators to keep the pendulum swinging.
The helmets can be used to facilitate healthcare workers or even on a repairman assigned to a closed-off hospital or quarantine area to provide medical assistance or carry out simple repair works.
When someone enters these quarantined areas, they are automatically placed under a two-week quarantine. They can only leave with a clean bill of health. It’s not uncommon for hospitals to strike out when they need to get someone into the quarantined area.
The helmet based ventilators will help these service people get in and out of the hospital or quarantined area seamlessly. They are protected by the helmet which filters the atmospheric quality around them and they can enter and leave the hospital contamination-free.
People like Marek are everywhere.
These are the people who have the skills, knowledge, and experience to design and produce these noninvasive ventilation helmets and they’re online, communicating and sharing freely with each other, hot on the heels of medical revelations.
It is now up to authorities and governments to recognize their effort and give these innovative inventions a chance, just like how other countries have, to treat Covid-19 and other respiratory patients faster.
We are sure we will see grander medical innovations from people like Marek in the future.