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A team from the University of Michigan has invented a device that allows multiple patients to safely use the same ventilator and has quickly made it available across the country with help from former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.

The device, called the VentMI, is a splitter that protects patients from cross-contamination while sharing a ventilator, and allows caregivers to adjust the settings to each patient’s needs — solving two problems that have largely prohibited shared use of ventilators in the past.

Two ear, nose and throat doctors from Michigan Medicine and UM’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital conceived of the device on March 22 and obtained emergency use authorization from the federal Food and Drug Administration on April 10 — an astounding timeline for a process that normally takes months or years.

Dr. Glenn Green, a pediatric otolaryngologist at UM’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, and Dr. Kyle VanKoevering, an otolaryngologist and head and neck surgeon at Michigan Medicine, posted their idea on Facebook in mid-March.

The post attracted the attention of Snyder, a UM alumnus who was a venture capitalist and chairman of the board of Gateway Inc. before serving as Michigan’s governor from 2011 through 2018.

“(Snyder) called and we told him what we were doing, and he said ‘This sounds important,’” said Green, adding Snyder volunteered to navigate them through the process. Neither the inventors, the university nor Snyder will make money off the devices since they’ll be given at cost to hospitals that request them, Green added.

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