Waking up during a surgery would be a nightmare, yet that’s a regular problem for patients in low-income countries. Sketchy power grids mean the lights often go out, and with them, the anesthesia machine. In other cases, there are too few oxygen tanks for a surgery, so it’s canceled.
Two decades ago, Dr. Paul Fenton faced those hurdles almost daily while working as an anesthesiologist at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi. The hospital had plenty of anesthesia machines, each provided by a well-intentioned western charity, but none were practical for his clinic.
“So I began tinkering with these old machines, and took a few bits and pieces from each,” recounts Fenton.
The result was a prototype for the Universal Anesthesia Machine (UAM), which delivers anesthesia without oxygen tanks or the need of stable power grid