Mexican group Baja Ventura making UCL CPAP devices
9 June 2020
In the Mexican state of Baja California, a consortium of more than 30 businesses is manufacturing UCL-Ventura CPAP devices to support their country’s COVID-19 response.
Main image: Luciano Arguello (centre) and colleagues deliver CPAP devices to Mexicali General Hospital
In March, as the impact of Coronavirus was becoming very clear in the UK, a team of UCL engineers, UCLH clinicians and industry partners Mercedes Formula 1 developed a CPAP breathing aid that could help keep COVID-19 patients out of ICU.
In April, we released the UCL-Ventura designs and manufacturing instructions for free to governments, industry manufacturers, academics and health experts across the globe.
Luciano Arguello is one more than 1,800 people internationally to have downloaded the license. He has 22 years’ experience in the mould manufacturing industry and now owns a business in Ensenada called Mold Craft Solutions with eight employees.
Watch our video interview with Luciano
“I did a little more research in newspapers talking about this device. I talked to my friends in the industry, mostly from the aerospace industry. I asked them to help me build the device, and most told me they would help without thinking twice. That is when we started”.
In part due to its proximity to US clients, Baja California has become a leading manufacturing hub for the aerospace industry, and through this link a lot of the local businesses know each other.
Baja Ventura members stand in Tijuana, on the US-Mexico border
Many of the Baja Ventura Breathing team are small-business owners like Luciano who want to help their country in any way they can. Although many of them are manufacturers, they are also joined by accountants, translators, educational institutions and medical and automotive companies. They are all working on this project altruistically.
“We align ourselves in such a way that I lead them, but in reality, most of them are leaders in their field. I just tell them what guidelines they must follow under which statutes and whatnot. I lead one of the best groups I have worked with”.
So far, the team have made a batch of 20 devices which they have donated to local hospitals but they are planning on making more, as resources allow.
“My plans are to keep doing more but it will be slower. If it were up to me, I would do 2,020 from my own pocket. Why 2020? To remember this year of global change”.
The Baja Ventura Breathing group are currently working hard to get their devices formally approved by the Baja Secretary of Health. In the meantime, they have been able to test the CPAPs on patients in Mexicali and Ensenada, with positive responses from the patients and doctors.
A Baja Ventura member (right) delivers a device to the Director of ISSTECALI (Institute of Security and Social Services for Government Workers and Municipalities of the State of Baja California)
On 3 June, the Director of Ensenada Hospital, Johann Galván de la Fuente wrote to the city’s mayor asking for their support acquiring 10 more of these devices from Baja Ventura Breathing.
In his letter, translated from Spanish, he says “We have been testing the Baja Ventura CPAP devices that were donated to us for 15 days now…and we have obtained great results in the treatment of our patients”. The hospital director describes the increase in the number of coronavirus infections as ‘alarming’, and says the hospital does not have the equipment to cope.
In Mexico, there were over 120,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus on June 8, but the government acknowledges that the actual number of infections and deaths is likely much higher.
For Luciano, a positive mindset through all of this is key. While the COVID-19 situation (and the subsequent economic damage) in Mexico is serious, he and his colleagues are focusing on what they can do to help.
“We have many good things that are within our circle of control. We are tenacious, we are strong, we are happy and we are hard-working. We are proud to be Mexicans”.
Help Baja Ventura Breathing make more devices for hospitals
Baja Ventura Breathing has already made 100 devices to donate to local hospitals. However, in order to make even more, they require extra resources.
(Images courtesy of Baja Ventura Breathing Group)