Nigerian inventor Dayo Olakulehin creates portable ventilator to improve respiratory care in low-resource settings

Adedeji Ademola March 14, 2023
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Healthcare access is a huge challenge that developing countries face on a daily basis. Even before the COVID-19 situation, patients died in hospitals daily as a result of a lack of appropriate healthcare equipment, and at the top of this equipment is a ventilator, which is very scarce, especially in Nigerian hospitals, where Dayo Olakulehin originated from. This ventilator, often referred to as “gas” in local parlance, provides mechanical ventilation, which is imperative to saving lives. As well as being difficult to access, it is also expensive for patients to pay for. But a personal experience inspired Dayo Olakulehin to develop a portable ventilator called D-Box which changed the game. 

While working in the emergency ward of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Dayo Olakulehin, a biomedical expert, was tasked with saving the life of a five-year-old boy who required a ventilator throughout the night. However, the ventilators at the time required manual operation, and after four hours of manually compressing a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) bag, Dayo fell asleep from exhaustion. Thankfully, the boy’s father woke him up at midnight, allowing him to continue operating the ventilator and ultimately saving the boy’s life. This experience, along with the feeling of helplessness, drove Dayo to invent a portable ventilator that could automatically perform CPR, an innovation that could potentially save countless lives.

Dayo Olakulehin possesses a rich educational background in biomedical engineering, which provides the platform with the knowledge and skills required to develop innovative medical services. He obtained his undergraduate degree in Biomedical Engineering from Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria, where he graduated with honors. He obtained a Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Lagos, Nigeria. After this, he proceeded to the University of Leeds where he completed a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering. His Ph.D. research focused on developing a novel technique for measuring the electrical activity of muscles using ultrasound.

Olakulehin’s accomplishments in creating medical gadgets have been aided by his extensive educational background. The world’s first portable ventilator with automatic CPR is Olakunle’s most important creation. Quick intervention is essential in emergency cases like cardiac arrest, which is why this device, known as the D-box, was created. The D-Box is perfect for usage in both hospital and non-hospital settings because it is small, light, and simple to set up.

It is intended for use by first responders, emergency medical technicians, and medical professionals to quickly intervene on behalf of individuals going into cardiac or respiratory arrest. The D-Box has cutting-edge technologies, including dynamic pressure control and automated CPR, which serve to increase the patient’s lung function and chances of survival. Moreover, the device has an integrated oxygen concentrator that enables it to give oxygen to patients who need it.

In addition to the D-box, Olakulehin has created additional medical devices, such as an inexpensive oxygen concentrator for use in low-resource settings and a non-invasive glucose monitor for persons with diabetes. Recently, Olakulehin teamed up with Orangeville businessman, Louis Sapi, to develop the LifeAir G1 emergency ventilator after he moved to Canada. Olakulehin’s work has gained him various accolades and recognition. In addition to being nominated for the Royal Academy of Engineering Prize, he was also named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2014. He also received the Nigeria Rising Star Award from the African Economic Congress in 2016.

Dayo Olakulehin’s work is proof of the effectiveness of engineering and creativity in addressing some of the most critical issues that society is currently experiencing. His advances in medical technology have the potential to save lives and raise the standard of care, particularly in areas with limited resources.

Last Edited by:Annie-Flora Mills Updated: March 14, 2023


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